Spain started out strong and finished the game emphatically as they cruised to a dominating 68-40 win over Croatia in the opening day of the EuroBasket Men 2013 On Wednesday in Slovenia.

Spain, who are aching to prove their doubters wrong in this year’s European Championship, started like a house on fire and quickly built a commanding 24-9 lead after the opening period.

The two teams engaged in a close battle in the second and third periods with Spain taking a 12-point advantage heading into the final period of the game. It was all Spain from then on as the defending champions limited Croatia to just three points in the final period en route to the impressive 28-point win.

“We defended very well during long stretches, once we adjusted at the problem they posed for us with the pick-and-roll,” Spain coach Juan Orenga said. “Our big men protected the paint well, but it had to be covered by a second line of help so that to prevent them from rolling and shooting.”

NBA center Marc Gasol spearheaded the onslaught of the Spaniards as he finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Rudy Fernandez led the team in scoring with 15 points.

Veteran point guard Jose Calderon finished with 13 points and three assists, while Ricky Rubio posted seven points and seven assists for Spain, which shot 42.3 percent as a team, including an 8-for-19 three-point shooting.

Bojan Bogdanovic, on the other hand, led Croatia with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Luka Zoric added eight points. Croatia had a bad night on the offensive end of the floor, shooting just 25.4 percent from the field, including a measly 2-for-17 clip from beyond the arc.

Spain will look to make it two-in-a-row when they collide with host Slovenia on Thursday, while Croatia will look to bounce back when they take on Georgia.