MACEDONIA LOST IN LAST 5 MINUTES AFTER LEADING ALMOST THE WHOLE GAME
Macedonia lost to Croatia yesterday with 81-71. Vrbica Stefanov and his teammates very nearly pulled the upset.
Macedonia will start the next round with an 0-2 record, but didn't expect much more than that coming here. Nevertheless it wasn't far from being the other way around.
The group of Jovica Arsic held a 39-22 lead in the second quarter and entered the break with a 14 point lead.
Planinic led Croatia on a beautiful ride in the end of the second half when they erased the gap in the first minutes of the third quarter, and took over the game completely in an impressive team display in the last period with a 27-2 run.
Three players - Vrbica Stefanov, Darko Sokolov and Jeremiah Massey - scored 12 each.
Macedonia missed a chance for a huge upset, but can gain confidence from dominating Croatia this way in the first half. Stefanov scored eight points already after 5:30 to make it 16-11 in favor of his team.
Banic and Vujcic were the only ones to make it happen for Croatia but when Sokolov found his spot and took over Stefanov's streak with eight of his own until the buzzer, Macedonia led 26-20 after ten minutes.
Gecevski and then Stefanov scored from distance and Massey finished a fast break to shock the Croats with a 34-20 lead and cap a total of 13 unanswered points.
The gap reached already 39-22 but Croatia was just about to strike back.
Ukic and Davor Kus scored from distance to write a 13-2 run, but lack of focus around the rim and a technical foul on the Croatian bench, stopped the momentum.
Macedonia converted it to five points in a row and entered the break up 48-34.
Croatia came back from the locker-room with a different spirit, and after four minutes it was already a 48-46 game.
Vojdan Stojanovski with a lay up and Pero Antic with a big alley-hoop dunk shook up the Macedonian offense, to set the ground for Vrbica Stefanov to nail a three ball and set the margin on nine, 61-52.
After five minutes with no points Massey finally broke the drought from Macedonia after an offensive board but Planinic dished another assist and Popovic completed an additional three point play to regain the Croatian run.
A technical foul and a big play by Planinic capped the run on 27-2 and showed Croatia is finally here, before the margin was cut in the closing minutes.
MD: Tomorrow we play France. It will be very hard, but we have shown we can be a tough team to beat.