Spain’s ascension at EuroBasket 2015 continued on Thursday with an 80-75 overtime win over France, a semi-final win that propelled the Spanish into the final. A patchy group phase showed an out of sorts Spain, but since the knockout stages started the team has clicked and grew, and that rise was encapsulated here. France, of course, was the so-far undefeated reigning champions, but Les Bleus were vanquished here and will not get the chance to defend its title in the showpiece contest.
As for Spain, they now await Serbia or Lithuania in the game for gold, those two nations will plot their paths to the grand finale tomorrow. Spain is now in the picture for its third title, and its first since back to back successes in 2009 and 2011.
Spain vs. France, 80-75
With 26,922 fans packed into Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille, France had the feeling of home and buoyed by that roaring support the hosts took a 17-20 lead after ten minutes. A muted second frame followed which allowed Spain to win the period 17-15, although through halftime both nations looked nervous on the hardwood (34-35). Les Bleus found the going easier in the third frame and plundered 23 points while keeping the visitors to 16 points for a 50-58 lead through thirty minutes. Spain tightened up in defence to secure an 18-10 winning fourth act to tie the game 68-68 after the regulation buzzer.
The game stayed close early in the added period and the teams traded throughout overtime. However, Spain’s jewel in the crown, Pau Gasol stepped up with a dunk to give the Spanish a 78-75 lead with 18 seconds on the clock. From there Spain never looked back and stunned the champs in front of their own fans.
Pau Gasol has been sensational for Spain during the EuroBasket 2015 tournament and he put in another showing here that keeps him in the frame for MVP. Gasol shot for 40 points and doubled up by adding 11 rebounds in a hugely impressive display, while also leaving the situation in no doubt, Spain need him at his best in the final. Aside from Gasol’s clinic, Sergio Rodriguez took 15 points home.
Nicolas Batum topped France with 14 points, while Nando De Colo also managed the same haul. France’s spark and all-time EuroBasket leading scorer Tony Parker was kept quiet, although he did combine 10 points with 6 assists.
“It was an incredible game, so hard-fought by both teams and an extremely difficult game to win here in France against a big team, I am very happy and proud for our team” – Pau Gasol.