Some things they have been showing all around the tournament: Tough defense, good control of game tempo, great knowledge to play the last quarters of their games (they just lost the fourth quarter against Georgia in the close games) well defined roles, and confidence in their leaders. Their chemistry is second to none and they are as dangerous as a wolves pack. Marin Dokuzovski has a hell of a TEAM, and that’s why they are where they are.
In the last seconds, when the ball is so hot you wouldn’t dare to touch it, McCalebb and Ilievski are the guys. Ball screens and clear out situations, they’ll do the rest.
Against Montenegro, they were trailing by two points and they run a ball screen situation, plus a couple of repicks, that ends with a missmatch. They manage to give the ball inside to the big guarded by the pointguard. Afterwards they keep trying with the pick and roll and finally with quick shots but they can’t score and lose the game.
Against Croatia, with the game tied, they try the ball screen for McCalebb, who misses the lay up. They play a good defense and recover the ball. The last ball is, again, for “Bo Mc” who gets another ball screen to find Ilievski, who scores. Another good defense (a contested three pointer) gives them the game.
Finland was a tough game. After getting a one point advantage, they struggled to score again, and only through free throws they managed to do it. Their good defense (sometimes lucky too, but you know “fortuna adaces iuvat”) and their nice control of team fouls (plus rebounding the last one of Koponen’s shots, missed on purpose) meant a new victory.
With a two point lead they reach the last 30” of their game against Georgia. It was a different day but the same play... Ball screen, and then a good inside out pass for a missed trey from Lakovic... Georgia go to the free throw line and tie the game. McCalebb finishes the game with a terrific lay up in a kind of clear out situation. One more game for Macedonia.
They were really close to beat Russia, but Monya’s incredible shot gave the win to the powerful russians. Once again, the end of this game makes me think they are the best team when team fouls’ management is over the table.
But the last game... the last one has been unbelievable. Lithuania leading by two points. A ball screen for McCalebb (maybe fouled maybe not) ends up with Lithuania turning the ball over... and with Ilievski hitting one of those shots basketball fans will remember for ever. Lithuania had their last shot, but Jasaitis missed it and there was no time for more than a miracle... but it didn’t happen for Lithuania.
Challenger’s name is Macedonia. Congratulations! We’ll be watching...