Macedonia Shocks Lithuania, Joins Spain In Semifinals At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The quarterfinal round got off to an explosive (and rousing, for one country) start Wednesday, thanks to our friends from Macedonia …

(NBA.com’s John Schuhmann recapped Wednesday’s first game, Spain’s 86-64 win over Slovenia, below.)

Macedonia 67, Lithuania 65 (Box Score)

Vlado Ilievski‘s 3-pointer (off an assist from Bo McCalebb) with 11 seconds left pushed Macedonia ahead and they held on to pull off one of the most shocking upsets in EuroBasket history, knocking off host nation Lithuania before a raucous crowd in a hostile environment. Ilievski (12 points) and McCalebb (23 points) had plenty of company in the heroes corner in the Macedonia locker room after the game. Vojdan Stojanovski who didn’t miss a single shot, he was 5-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line, finishing with 15 points.

“This is a huge win for us. We are very happy,” Stojanovksi said. “I think we played very well and we deserved this win. I have to thank our playmakers because they put me in a position to have open shots. I was confident of making them. Spain will be a tough team but we have proved that we can beat good teams in this tournament.”

Macedonia scraped back from an early 17-10 deficit, clawing their way to within a basket before the end of the first quarter and things went back and forth until the end of the contest.  Ilievski’s late 3-pointer came after a critical Lithuania turnover on it previous possession. Lithuania’s Simas Jasaitis missed a potential game-winning jumper and Pero Antic grabbed the rebound and found Ilievski, who drew a foul and knocked down one of the two free throws.

Something of a basketball Cinderella story at the start of this competition, Macedonia has continually outplayed the opposition to make their first ever trip to the EuroBasket semifinals. McCalebb has been an unstoppable force, even when he’s not making shots at a high percentage. And they won this game without one of their top players, Todor Gechevski, who was out with a broken hand.

“I think we showed that we are one of the best teams in Europe even though many thought our run was down to luck,” said Macedonia coach Marin Dokuzovski. “We deserve to be here. We played without pressure, we played very free and with great tempo.”

If any team at this stage of the competition was going to stare down the host nation team in this sort of pressure-packed environment (it was complete with security officers surrounding the Macedonia contingent in the crowd), it was the upstart crew from Macedonia.

“Congratulations to F.Y.R Macedonia. They did a great job. They made important shots at the end,” said Lithuania coach Kestutis Kemzura. “They played smart, right and good. Our problem was rebounding during the whole game. When it’s a close game and you get to the end, a shot can decide the game as was the case. It’s a huge disappointment for us but we have to show character. Our European Championship is not finished.”

Next up on Macedonia’s historic march through this competition is a semifinal date with the defending champions from …

Spain 86, Slovenia 64 (Box Score)

Slovenia gave Spain a scare early on, leading 23-16 after the first quarter. It was almost a 10-point lead, but Samo Udrih‘s three came just after the first-quarter buzzer.

Spain then shut down the Slovenia offense in the second quarter to take a four-point lead into halftime. And then their own offense exploded in the third. Spain shot 14-for-18 from the field, including 7-for-10 from 3-point range, in the third to put the game away.

The onslaught started with Juan Carlos Navarro coming off screens and Pau Gasol in the post. That opened things up on the perimeter, from where Navarro and Rudy Fernandez rained threes.

But as unstoppable the Spanish offense was in the third quarter, it was the Spanish defense that really changed the game in the second. With their second unit on the floor and Ricky Rubio and Fernandez using their quickness on the perimeter, Spain went to an aggressive zone that didn’t allow Slovenia a single good look at the basket.

After scoring 23 point in the first 10 minutes, Slovenia scored just nine over the next 13. Their only buckets in the first 9:14 of the second quarter were a follow dunk by Mirza Begic and a three by Matjaz Smodis that came when Spain was playing man-to-man on a baseline out-of-bounds play. They were getting absolutely nothing from their initial offense.

  • Navarro led all scorers with 26 points on 11-for-16 from the field. He committed four turnovers in the first quarter, but none after that. Slovenia did a terrible job of containing him off the high screen and he had his trademarked runner falling early and often.
  • Pau Gasol shot just 6-for-17, but finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
  • Rubio didn’t score a point and played just 14 minutes, but his aggressive defense absolutely made a difference in the second quarter.
  • Goran Dragic led Slovenia with 14 points, but his backcourt-mate, Jaka Lakovic, struggled. Lakovic hit a three early in the first quarter, but those were the only points he scored all game.
  • The Slovenian frontline of Begic and Erazem Lorbek were outplaying the Gasol brothers early, scoring 13 of Slovenia’s first 20 points. But they scored just four points after that.

*** Slovenia and Lithuania will battle it out Thursday to stay in the competition and secure a top six finish, which secures and invitation to next July’s Olympic qualifying tournament. ***

Thursday’s Quarterfinal Action:

Greece vs. France

Russia vs. Serbia


				
								
				

			

51 Comments

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  2. Oliver says:

    This one was long time coming for macedonia, and many ,many more good fortune’s to come,its only the begining.
    We are on the rise in every aspect, Economically and in sport.Semi finalists and in contention for The olympics.Well done maso’s,you have big,big balls.

    From a makedonec

    Oliver

  3. Macedonia is Greek says:

    Nothing is expensive for the Greeks, the Greeks have learned to overcome all difficulties and obstacles in their path. Because Greeks have a soul, have a history and culture which the country of yours, Skopje, have never and will never acquire. I am a Macedonian, because I live in Macedonia which is part of the Greek state. If you want to see where is Macedonia, come to Greece and see. We will have the opportunity to see together the two Eurobasket, that won Greece in 1987 and 2005, we also look at the Skopje-Greece 54-86 in Eurobasket 2009,

    • Alexander says:

      LOL…… we Play in semis and YOU can wach us, and cry (like you allways DO) …… Have a nice day…..MACEDONIA for MACEDONIANS…..
      P.S
      Hope your mother will let you wach the game , and give you a hot milk BABY BOY….

      Поздрав од Македонија

      • Macedonia is Greek says:

        I will see your game with Spain, hug with your mother, in your bed. We will see and Skopje-Greece 54-86 to do in practise what they did Greeks in your f…ing country Skopje in Eurobasket 2009

  4. Macedonia says:


    The whole country was on their feet when we won against Lithuania .
    MACEDONIA

  5. Filip says:

    Please just ignore the greek “politicians” here,they are just mad they lost 72-58 and have to comfort themselves with politics cus thats the only thing they are good at (probably)

    Now back on topic,GJ MACEDONIA I HOPE WE WIN AGAINST SPAIN TOO :)
    MACEDONIA FOREVER <3
    ————–
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    | \\ || // |
    |== () ==|
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  6. Angel says:

    Haters gonna hate, losers gonna cry. Piss off to some comforting anti-macedonian greek political blog, don’t frustrate the normal basketball fans who are here to read about true heroes.

  7. ILIJA says:

    this is all about and amarican’s know that!!! we dont give our flag to any contry in the world!!!

  8. Alexander says:

    SO why don’t you call your country MACEDONIA my brother from another mother , don’t be stupid, I can call my self as i want, if you don’t like that, Its your problem… If you call yoursef Macedonian please visit your contry MACEDONIA, or its to expesnive for your teaste in the moment ….HAHAHA LOL , I can buy you a dinner ,and we can wach how our GREAT MACEDONIA play in semi-finals (finals maybe) you have open invitation, come and cheer for your contry my proud MACEDONIAN brother S:P hehehehehhe
    Види го брат луд е типов,
    Батали Грците не се замарај
    ДА ЖИВЕЕЕ МАКЕДОНИЈА!!!!!!

  9. Bo says:

    I believe that Greeks have to make a decission so that it is clear to the world.

    Are they Greeks or Macedonians?

    If they are Greeks than how come they want to be Macedonians and how come they hate someone else calling him/her self Macedonian.

    I have read dosen of historical facts from several markable historian libraries and none of those point to the fact that Alexander the great was Greek.

    Anyway I believe that the name issue is quite absurd from this millenia perspective (unless Greece has to pay to the rightful owners for taking the property of the exiled people in the civil war and the years before). It is amazing how can someone prohibit someone else to feel like a nation in the year of 2011 when we the rights of the people are supposed to be raised to a higher piedestal.

    Anyway, I can say that USA is following the European cup and many of us have been pleasantly surprised from the game and the skill that was shown on the floor by the Macedonia team. Good luck to the Macedonian team and see you in the finals.

  10. Gjorgi says:

    it is not FYR Macedonia, it is FEAR Macedonia!
    Is it just the russian coach who is not surprised by macedonian team taking the semifinals spot?
    Despite popular belief, I don’t think Gasols’ had a calm sleep…
    And as for the Greek fans commenting on the victory of their northern neighbour, what else can be said but sad, sad, sad…

  11. Macedonia is Greek says:

    Macedonia is Greek. The name of this country that wants to be called Macedonia is Skopje. Only Greeks can be called Macedonians, because Macedonia is part of the Greek state. The Skopjan are not descendants of Alexander the Great as they want themselves to be called

    • Sasho says:

      To “Macedonia is Greek”. You my friend are a very sad sad poor excuse for a human being. MACEDONIA is MACEDONIA! It always was and always will be. We beat you! We are the better team and we deserve everything! You cannot spoil my joy by your sad comments! This is the happiest time of my life! Nothing you say matters! heck, you dont matter! GO MACEDONIA!!!! Bring on spain!

  12. iMartin says:

    So, can you find us on the map now? Search under ” Macedonia” ….
    However, that match has blown me away.We had excellent game play, defense, attack and most importantly faith.We were supporting them with every beat of their hearts and letting the world know how good we are.
    CROATIA, FINLAND, GREECE, B&H, GEORGIA, SLOVENIA, LITHUANIA… that’s how we count to 7.The 8th and the 9th number I’m about to tell you later, but the 10th is VICTORY.
    UNITED, UNITED, UNITED MACEDONIA ! <3

  13. Amy says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! WIN SPAIN AND YOU WILL RULE THE WORLD!

  14. Emathia Macedon says:

    Go Macedonia

  15. Ana says:

    The M in FYROM stands for MACEDONIA! Go team Macedonia!

  16. igor says:

    @George & True Macedonian – Its more than easy to recognize that you are just jealous greeks who don’t know how to congratulate properly and now you think you’ll spoil our moments of joy with this kind of comments.. No, you wont! Go there and block the border, like you did last time when MACEDONIA beat greece 72-58!!! What a slap in the face! =)
    Cheers!

  17. Angela says:

    I’m proud to be macedonian. Game was great. Haters can tell everything but we are who we are . We are Macedonian.
    We expect winning tomorow .
    Sky is our limit. :) <3
    Makedonijaaa <333333

  18. andrej says:

    Dont be an idiot pls, show some respect…

  19. The Macedinian says:

    George… Don’t bring politics… I feel sorry for you…
    By the Way… LET”S Go MACEDONIANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. John P. says:

    Thanks to Sekou Smith for the great report!
    I saw the game as well and it was like watching a thriller movie!

    The Macedonian team at this championship doesn’t have any big names. Still they are playing like one mind, excellently coordinated and with a good strategy. Especially the defense – they have not received more than 65 points at any match and Lithuania scored a 100 with Serbia.
    Dokuzovski is a great coach especially for “nail-biters” witch are almost all of the games for the Macedonians (with Georgia, Russia, Lithuania…).

    They need to work on their 3-pointers however. They lose way too many shots with this…

    I saw online the celebration in Skopje. Great party! :)
    And good luck with Spain tomorrow. I will definitely be watching this game and I think that I will be rooting for the Macedonians!

    J

  21. Stefan Macedonia says:

    MACEDONIA FOREVER !!! MACEDONIA TIMELESS !!!

  22. Mirchevski MKD says:

    To all Greek friends here…you can call us Fyromian, Skopians, whatever you like…but this BIG HEARTED MACEDONIA kicked you way out during this tournament. We are proud to be the Macedonians and we will be like that
    Long live Alexander the Macedonian and God bless Republic of Macedonia. Let’s get Spain on Friday!!!

    • iMartin says:

      I don’t understand Greek’s logic of calling us Northern Macedonia, when we belong to the SOUTHERN group of SLOVENIAN public.
      But eh, seems they have big historian knowledge.
      /sarcasm

  23. Dimche Grncharov Bitola says:

    Only One Heart, One Name MACEDONIA, One Team,
    Welcome to celebrate after EUROBASKET 2011.

    ДА ЖИВЕЕ МАКЕДОНИЈА,
    Сега сигурно многумина ќе се запрашаат која е и каде е!

  24. Roberr says:

    Go Macedona, Go!

  25. George says:

    Ignorants….call it like it is…FYROM….

  26. Zoran-Glava says:

    Congratulations Macedonia.If someone ask two weeks ago how far will Macedonia goes in EuroBasket answer would be first round.Not a biggest optimist hope that Macedonia will reach semifinal.But if u watch how Macedonian players play till last second,till last atom of force it wouldn’t be suprise.Pitty r that our southern neighbour demand exuses 4 all our victories on historical and political manners.Shame on them.In sport u need to be sportsman not a loyer.Go Macedonia and our heart r beating for u all together.

  27. We beat them in their own home, in front of the biased referees and we were outnumbered in fans (14k:200)
    So damn right we’re proud.

    Браво Македонци !
    Да живее Македонија.

  28. Dijana says:

    We are so happy that our Macedonian basketball team show how great we are! This is a victory made because our players believe in them self, they had big heart and motivation to make us proud nation!
    Thanks a lot!!!

  29. Biljana says:

    We are small on the map, but GREAT in our harts………………
    This are the words of the Macedonian sports anthem,
    Really Macedonians left their harts on the court. They shocked the basketball world, but they deserved it!!!
    Good luck with Spain!!!!!

  30. ognen says:

    this VICTORY will last forever in my hart – GO MACEDONIA GO

  31. FILIP says:

    PROUD TO BE MACEDONIAN!!! SUCH A SMALL COUNTRY BUT FULL OF PEOPLE WITH GREAT HEARTS !!! LET THE WORLD KNOWS WHO WE ARE !!! GO MACEDONIA!!! YOU ARE THE BEST!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzZC8AOcGrI <3 <3 <3

  32. True Macedonian says:

    Congrats to FYROM, not Macedonia. They have a pretty good team although McCaleb is hardly a Skopian…or is it McCalebvsky?

    • Alexander says:

      Very sad that a Greek would try to politicize a sports event. And please tell me that Greece has never used a non-Greek on any of its sporting teams..LOL..What a joke. Congratulations Macedonia!! Congratulations from all Macedonians around the world…including those in Greece.

    • Jealous? says:

      His name is SloBOdan Mekelevski if you like to know. You, my fellow southern neighbour, are just upset that your team lost against a non existing country. What did your media write back than, we lost agains a ghost? btw. doesn´t look so good against france either ;)

  33. Mickelle says:

    Greetings from Skopje, the craziest city on the planet. Last night there was a REAL WAR at the streets of the town…..Nobody slept…..Thousands on the boulevards, squares, machine guns, pistols, shouting….. Police had a day off… hahaha

    • Stupid says:

      What are you talking about? There was no shooting with guns and pistols, this is not a wild west country. But yes indeed there was lots of firecrackers and a very loud and proud nation celebrating their basketball heroes.

  34. Perseus of Macedonia says:

    We are so proud of this victory. Our team was called offensive names like underdogs, outsiders etc. No one deserves that kind of treatment, even the last team in the tournament. But we proved Europe and the world that there are no big teams or nations, big players or small players. We proved that every country deserves equal treatment.

  35. Zharko says:

    Macedonia has a great defense (maybe the best in Europe right about now) so Spain’s offence will have quite a lot of jumping to do under the basket. I am sure that it will be a game to remember!

  36. Pete says:

    Great game I must say!

    Macedonia dictated the pace of the game. Great defense and excellent team play.

    They deserve to be in the finals.

    Cheers! GO MACEDONIA!!!

  37. Macedon says:

    Macedonia – one and only! Macedonia will be the new champion!!! YEEEEAHHH

    • Reds says:

      Well… no… they played great today, but Spain demonstrated to be on top. Nevertheless, excellent work by Macedonia, congrats.