76-77 Spain advance to second stage with important win over Ukraine

76-77 Spain advance to second stage with important win over Ukraine

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With a first kill from Pradilla and a hat-trick from Jaime Fernández, Spain had an authoritative start (2-9, 3rd minute) which nevertheless gradually eroded several setbacks due to imprecise passes. And Mykhailiuk’s first basket, a hat-trick, hitherto well matched by Parra, gave the Ukrainians the advantage (10-9, minute 5), who kept control in the following minutes, already in full first rotations. A hat-trick from Lukashov and an alley-oop culminated by Bobrov increased the score (19-12, 8th minute). Two free throws from Sima and a three-pointer from Díez restored the tie (19-17) one minute from the end of the first quarter. With more defensive ambition, a closing on the rebound, a hat-trick from Brizuela and a counter from Xabi, Spain again commanded (19-20).

The second quarter started with 3 points from Jaime Fernández, consolidating the team’s previous good minutes, with pace control, open attack and general success. Two consecutive actions from Saiz reinforced the advantage (24-29, minute 14) and a counter-attack culminated by Brizuela after a block from Saiz increased it a little more (26-31). But Pustovyi conditioned the inside attacking game and was effective in his shots as well. And even though Mykhailiuk was still tied, two three-point shots from Tkachenko in one minute gave the Ukrainians wings again (36-33, Minute 16). The scorer moved within a +2/-2 range for the remainder of the quarter. A 2+1 from Sima and 1 free throw from Parra led to the break at 39-40. Or what amounts to the same thing: the totally open party.

The second half couldn’t have started better: Quino’s three points, a hard defensive rebound and more pressure. Ukrainian errors in the pass, well stifled, were punished by Spain with beautiful counterattacks, which they took advantage of (42-50, minute 23 after a free kick from Parra and a penetration from Xabi). The duel accelerated and Spain did not let go: 48-53, minute 25, after a three-pointer from López-Aróstegui. But the shock hardened, every minute it was more difficult to score. Ukraine regained the lead but Parra stopped them with a basket on the counterattack after recovering (58-57, minute 30). But the last possession of the quarter, 5 seconds from the end, faded (60-57).

Defensive rebounding problems continued, although the Ukrainians couldn’t score on the opening attacks. Mykhailiuk took responsibility and started to be the protagonist of all the attacks of his team. 68-61 after two free throws and a timeout from Sergio Scariolo. The triples did not enter and it had to be Jaime Pradilla with a 2 + 1 on the counterattack after a spectacular checkmate that caused Spain to react. A special ‘box and one’ defense stopped the Ukrainian team’s offensive production, but it was difficult to score. Another 2+1, this time from Sebas Saiz, made it 73-71. The unsportsmanlike served for Jaime Fernández, from 7 meters, to score 73-74 (0-6 in 10 seconds of play). Free throws tied the game at 76. Xabi López-Arostegui scored one of two free throws and Sebas Saiz placed a key save with three seconds remaining.

The first window of the second qualifying phase for the 2023 World Cup will be held at the end of August, just a few days before Eurobasket. In this second and final round, Spain will face Italy, Iceland and the Netherlands.

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