From a fan letter:
Man, you missed the "biggest screw job" of the year last night.
Croatia was playing Spain in the quarterfinals and it was held in Belgrade Arena (Serbia). So everyone was going nuts, they didn't wanna see Croatia succeed in Serbia. Serbs and Croats HATE each other.
The ref's must've been paid off or something cause there was 40 fouls called on Croatia and 10 on Spain, everytime a Croat player just looked in the wrong direction he had a foul on him. The fans were getting so hostile, so Croatia NT just walked off the court with like 2 minutes left.
I don't really think Serbs had any direct link with the game, except hostile crowd, but that was expected. To be correct, Spain shot 49 free throws, Croatia 12. Spain was called for 14 fouls, Croatia for 37. And that was after Spanish players made fouls on purpose at the end of regulation.
I have to say, I have never seen worse case of bad refs in my life. Tipical armed roberry.
Like I posted in another thread, Gordan Giricek said that he is desperate cause something like this has never happened to him and that he will never againg play under FIBA. Croatian coach Neven Spahija said that this is worst day of his life and Marko Popovic, who was ejected at the end of the game, said: "I'm a sportsman and I don't want anybody to f**k me in the a$$"
Today after the game with Slovenia, which we lost after all that happened last night, our captain Nikola Vujcic cried and coach Spahija said that he will not coach any team uder FIBA. He resigned, but has full support of the public and national bball federation.
This is how EuroBasket described the game (seems quite different):
Spain took advantage of an injured and foul plagued Croatia to win an an overtime thriller in the last EuroBasket quarter-final to stay on course for a medal and secure their place at the FIBA World Championship 2006.
Fran Vazquez came to the rescue for Spain with an offensive rebound and put-back to send the game to overtime and then teamed up with Juan Carlos Navarro in a controversial extra period to seal a 101-85 triumph.
Croatia played an amazing game despite losing star point guard Zoran Planinic and center Mario Kasun to injuries in the first quarter, but as the game started to slip away in the final minute of overtime, so did the composure of coach Neven Spahija, who drew a technical foul, and Marko Popovic, who was ejected.
Navarro had 36 points for Spain, but the man of the match was Vazquez, who might well have jumped out of a telephone booth and donned a cape for the team because he played like Superman.
He finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. After missing his first two free throws, he made his next eight.
Croatia could hardly contain their anger before the final whistle, with Spahija crossing mid-court to argue with the referees and then Popovic popping off and earning an early shower.
The reason for the Croatian fury was the disparity in fouls. Spajija´s team were whistled for 37 fouls to 14 for Spain. Spain took advantage, making 38-of-49 attempts from the free throw line to Croatia's eight-of-12.
A technical committee will review the incidents at the end of the game and determine if Popovic will be banned from their classification game on Saturday against Slovenia.
Spain, with the technical fouls at the end, made the score looking more convincing that it should have.
Whatever happened in the final minute should not tarnish an otherwise excellent contest.
Croatia will remember they led 73-70 after Croatia's Marko Tomas hit on one of two free throws with 12 seconds to go.
Croatia fouled Navarro with seven seconds on the clock. Navarro made the first free throw but missed the second.
Croatia couldn't control the rebound and Vazquez snuck in, picked up the loose ball and scored on a put-back just on the edge of the lane to tie the game with three seconds to go.
Tomas received a pass and instead of shooting passed to Gordan Giricek but the Utah Jazz player didn't get his three-pointer off in time before the buzzer, forcing overtime.
Both teams started well in the extra period with the lead exchanging hands during the first three minutes.
But Spain eventually took command under two minutes to go as Vazquez hit a pair of free throws, Croatia's Nikola Vujcic missed an inside shot and Calderon connected on a lay-up for an 86-83 lead.
Giricek, who scored a team-high 17 points, was called for an offensive foul and then a defensive foul on Spain´s next possession.
After Navarro hit two free throws to give Spain an 88-83 lead with 47 seconds remaining, the wheels came off for Croatia. The two fouls were Giricek´s fourth and fifth, sending him to the bench for the remainder of the contest.
Another Croatian miss followed by a controversial foul call on Tomas allowed Navarro to go to the foul line. Spahija unloaded on the officials, Popovic unloaded the officials and the atmosphere soured on court as Spain stretched their lead with the technical foul shots for a 16-point win.
Croatia must have felt they were on their way to the semi-final in the first half as they were in control, especially early with Kasun in excellent form.
Zoran Planinic looked powerful as he drove Croatia forward, but when he rolled his ankle on a drive to the basket with just over seven minutes to go, Spahija inserted Popovic in his place and had to do without Planinic.
He returned to play in the second quarter but was a non-factor on a gimpy ankle and did not even come to the bench for the second half.
Even without their point guard, Spain could not take advantage as they started ice cold from the field, hitting just one of their first 13 field goal attempts. A Jorge Garbajosa three as time expired in the first cut Croatia´s lead to 18-11.
Without their big man Kasun, who also left with an ankle injury, other Croatians came to the fore.
A steal by 20-year-old Roki-Leni Ukic resulted in a Giricek lay-up for a 28-17 advantage with 3:54 remaining in the half.
Spain outscored Croatia 8-2 over the next three minutes, but Marko Popovic hit a deep three as time expired to break the Spanish momentum and give his team a 33-25 first half edge.
Croatia, with the injuries and fouls keeping Nikola Vujcic off the floor, couldn't continue at their pace from the first half. Spain went on a 13-5 run to start the third quarter, capped by a three-point play by Navarro which tied the game at 38. A steal by Carlos Jimenez resulted in a lay-up for Calderon and Spain had their first lead of the game at 42-40 midway through the third.
Overall for the quarter, Spain outscored Croatia 30-20.
Croatia didn´t fold though as Ukic, who will play for Tau Ceramica next season, provided a spark off the bench, scoring 11 in the quarter. His three-pointer as time expired in the third cut Spain´s lead to 55-53.
Giricek hit a driving lay-up to give Croatia a brief fourth quarter lead, but Spain quickly responded as Juan Navarro hit a three-pointer and lay-up to put the Spanish out in front by 62-58 with 4:27 to go in the game.
Following a Vazquez bucket at the 3:46 mark, Giricek connected on a lay-up and was fouled. He nailed the free-throw and brought Croatia within one at 3:29. Giricek then hit a runner and Croatia re-took the lead with 2:26 remaining.
After Juan Navarro hit on one of two free throws to tie the game, Marko Popovic drained a long three-pointer from the top of the key to give Croatia a three-point lead with just under two minutes.
Garbajosa hit one of two free throws with Spains next possession and Mamic missed a three on Croatia´s next offensive trip.
Vazquez then tied the game with a hook shot with just over a minute to go.
Seldom used Tomas fed Mamic for a lay-up down low and Croatia had a two-point lead with 47 seconds to go.
Vujcic stole the ball 12 seconds later and Tomas was immediately fouled. He calmly sank two free throw s for his first points of the game and his fourth points of the tournament.
Following an acrobatic Vazquez dunk with 28 seconds remaining, Tomas was once again fouled, setting the stage for the dramatic moments at the end of regulation which saw Spain force the overtime.
Spain will take on Germany in the semi-final on Saturday, while Croatia battle Slovenia in a pivotal classification game. A victory will still allow Croatia to qualify for the FIBA World Championship for the first time since 1994.
BELGRADE (EuroBasket 2005) - Fran Vazquez has faced intense moments in his basketball career, but nothing could have prepared for the pressure of Spain's EuroBasket quarter-final against Croatia on Friday.
Vazquez, who had only made cameo appearances in Spain's three group games, came off the bench for Mario Pesquera to put forth an unforgettable performance and guide his country into the semi-finals and the FIBA World Championship 2006 in Japan.
The 2.09m centre, who was drafted by the Orlando Magic 11th overall in this summer's NBA Draft but elected to remain in Spain and sign for ACB side Girona, scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots as his team won 101-85 in overtime.
Vazquez hopes he will be in the squad which plays in the Far East next summer.
"It's a great success for us, and I really hope that I can be there with Spain because I am desperate to play in a World Championship," Vazquez said to PA Sport.
The Croatia game will live long in the memory for basketball fans, and for Vazquez and the Spanish players.
"This has been the most intense game in my whole career," Vazquez said.
"I am delighted with the result, for my team and for what it represents for my country.
"I think I have had a good game, probably the most complete game in my career."
Vazquez's rise to prominence has been rapid.
After the 2003-04 season with Gran Canaria, he joined forces with Jorge Garbajosa at Unicaja Malaga and helped them win the Copa del Rey.
His performances in the ACB, and the Euroleague, caught the eye of scouts from other European clubs and NBA teams.
Orlando used their lottery pick on Vazquez, and then he stunned the team in the Magic Kingdom by opting to play for Girona, whose recent investment by Spanish real estate company Akasvayu have made them one of the biggest-spending clubs in Europe over the summer.
Raul Lopez has returned from the NBA to play for Girona, and Dainius Salenga, the Lithuanian international, has also joined the Akasvayu revolution.
This EuroBasket is the first official appearance for Vazquez with the senior side.
"It's difficult to describe what it feels like," he said. "It's something that I never imagined, to play in a European Championship and in front of so many people, it's a fantastic feeling but one that also requires responsibility."
Spain are playing without Pau Gasol this summer and it was feared that his absence would create a void underneath the basket that would not be filled.
Inaki De Miguel played the majority of minutes off the bench for Spain against Serbia & Montenegro, Latvia and Israel, but Pesquera must have sensed that only Vazquez's incredible talent and athleticism would give his team a chance against one of the in-form teams of the tournament.
Vazquez looked like he was made of elastic on one play when he hung in the air and dunked over the Croatians.
"I went on the court wanting to own it," Vazquez said. "Of course, I want to play more minutes but all I can do is give my best and earn my place in the team.
"I practice hard in order to be ready for when the coach needs me and I believe that against Croatia, I was very complete in my performance."
The 22-year-old showed he truly is a remarkable talent by playing at a high level in so many different ways.
He battled for rebounds, made foul shots, dunked and also blocked shots. His offensive rebound off a missed free throw by Juan Carlos Navarro and subsequent put-back with three seconds remaining tied the game and sent it to overtime.
"I felt an overwhelming joy because I had played well," he said. "Two things entered my mind at that crucial moment. One was flexibility, and the other was rage."
Vazquez will have a prominent role against Germany, who upset Slovenia to reach the last four and like Spain, qualify for the FIBA World Championship 2006 in Japan.
"We have to take it a step at a time," he said. "It's going to be a difficult game, just as it was against Croatia. But we are going to have to stop Dirk Nowitzki, stop him in any way we can because if he starts scoring points, we're in trouble."
Nowitzki is second in the EuroBasket in scoring and rebounds with averages of 26.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.
He is maybe the most versatile player in the world, evident by his shot-blocking against the Slovenians, and the four-point play after he got fouled whiled launching a shot from the arc.
Spain will be looking to have a better start than they did against Croatia.
"We came out lacking concentration," Vazquez said. "In the second half, however, we raised our game and we played beautiful basketball. Let's hope we can do the same thing against Germany."
After the “Grand Theft”, excuse me, I meant a quarterfinal game, support to our team comes from all over the world. Just to know, the Croatians aren’t the only ones that think the game was irregular, and below level. After this I wouldn’t give them to be referees on a local tournament where the first prize is a 6-pack of beer.
Here is what Lithuania fans wrote on our forum:
“Croatia is the best! If you see in our basketball pages like www.delfi.lt/news/sport/eurobasket2005/article.php?id=7557982&com=1&s=2&no=0 or www.eurobasket.lt/?news.id.11320 ALL LITHUANIA FANS ARE SHOCKED WITH REFEREES (especially with fking stupid DOVIDAVICIUS). They are corrupted. AND Dovidavicius made terrible things in Lithuania too. He takes money. Please tell this information to all Croatia Media. Basketball world must know!”
“I hate politics at basketball!! Today you were the BEST! All Lithuanian are with you! I feel a huge shame that one of corrupt referee was Lithuanian. Dovidavicius fouled a honorable name of Lithuanian basketball and referees.
I hope Lithuania and Croatia will play on Sunday and show that is the REAL , HONOURABLE AND UNCORRUPT BASKETBALL!”
“Dovidavicius must be Russian. He can not be Lithuanian. Such refereeing (stealing) is a crime. It must be that it was order from Serbian government, because Serbs were afraid to play Croatian National song in the heat of Serbia.
After similar steeling as it was in the EC`95 , when Lithuania didn’t have a right to win, and Serbia won, 10 years after, same happens to Croatia.
We have to boycott FIBA. FIBA is mafia organization”
“Hi people of Croatia. I, as many of Lithuanians, want to sorry for our bastard referee Dovidavicius, who made such a discrace for us. We support you.” –Jonas added
There came also a letter from a Turkish basketball reporter. Here is it complete:
I don’t know how to start writing after such a game that is destroyed by the refs.
As you follow, after the disasterous tournament of Turkey NT, at the moment all the attention is around the chaos in our team. But after having watched the quarter final game between Spain and Croatia, things have changed.
I believe I have never seen such unjust chain of decisions in a game. After Croatia lost two of their starting players, especially Kasun who was so hot tonight, the refs literally tried to stop Croatia in every way that they can.
I would like to inform you that just after 10 minutes after the end of the game, all the mail lists were receiving many posts about this issue. Turkish basketball followers are really angry with what happened out on the court.
The dirty games arranged on the table, are not what we want to see. We would like to see Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, Roko-Leni Ukic and Marko Tomas.
I am really sorry about the result.
If you have any news or reactions about the issue, I would like to hear them.
"6.ADAM" Basketball Magazine
Gordan Giricek was the best scorer in Croatian team, in a game that will certainly be remembered for a long time. After the game at least what we can say is that he was furious.
"They took away clean victory from us. This is a major shame for basketball.", said Gira, and didn’t choose nice words to describe it. "That is unfair, this is theft, this is as rude as it can be. I don’t know what happened today. I have never seen anything like this, thank God I don’t play in FIBA, I will never come back to FIBA again."
Marko Tomas nearly became a hero, with an great performance off the bench he got Croatia back into the game.
"You saw it all. It is horrible how big this theft was. It isn’t over yet, we will at least try to secure the world championship."
Tomas said something about the situation that happened 7 seconds before the end, when Vasquez took the rebound from his hands: " It was an obvious foul, I had that ball, and he pushed me while I was in the air, I got outbalanced and they scored easy points" .
Captain Nikola Vujcic got fouls called whenever he just looked the wrong way at his opponent. Steal of the century left him in disbelief.
“I feel the most miserable it’s possible in this world. I know that we deserved more but we have to fight for what’s left. This is going to hurt for more than a day. We had seven seconds of paradise but now have to struggle back to be close. We still have a chance to qualify for the WCH but now we were so close to the medals. It’s why sportsmen live.”
Every time he started talking about the referees, he stopped himself. He wasn’t sure what he would say. Although, it was very obvious to everyone.
“I never suffered a loss like this one. Opposite situation happened to me but without the help from the refs. Referees have a lot of influence but something like this... if I was to say something against them, I would say a lot of bad things. Of my four fouls, first three were called so fast I didn’t have a time to turn around. The fourth one was called immediately I returned to the game.”
Vujcic had a hunch something about this could happen. But he had never conceived that it would get such proportions.
“As soon as we arrived here, immediately stories and rumors about how terrible it would be if our national anthem was to be played here. That was the atmosphere we had to struggle ever since Podgorica. We don’t have good rating due to a decade without significant result. We are sorry that we didn’t get a chance to show people that we can play because we know that basketball is watched again back home.”
Whatcha gonna do when Huxamania runs wild on you?!!
FIBA sucks. The level of referees is not great to begin with. Some of the best referees were not invited to the championship (just like the Olympic games). There is too much politics involved (of all sorts). And the structure of a one-game playoff is susceptible to all kinds of abuse as we have seen in this tournament.
All in all, the next time you have an issue with NBA refs, just think F-I-B-A. That will help you sleep better.
Popovic did not get suspended, if he had been, I don't know what would happened. I guess FIBA mercifully decided that the game against Spain was enough.
I know this will sound unfair and antisport-ish, but I'm glad that Spain lost in the semis, considering they should not have been there anyway.
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