Spain routs Serbia, France beats Slovenia at Euros
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Spain and France will meet in the semifinals of the European basketball championships in a rematch of their gold medal game two years ago.
Spain won that final and is seeking to become the first team to win three straight European titles since Yugoslavia in the 1970s.
Two-time defending champion Spain took a big early lead and routed Serbia 90-60 in Wednesday’s first quarterfinal.
Tony Parker then scored 27 points to lead France 72-62 past host Slovenia.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Parker said. “It’s a big win for sure but our team has other goals. We want a medal and we still don’t have it.”
Point guard Sergio Rodriguez scored 22 points and forward Rudy Fernandez went 4-for-4 from the 3-point range in adding 19 for Spain.
Spain has won gold or silver at every major competition since it captured the 2006 world title, except for the 2010 worlds when it finished sixth. The Spaniards won silver medals at the last two Olympics.
France went on a 10-0 run at the start of the third quarter and never looked behind again.
Slovenia cut the deficit to five when Domen Lorbek fired a 3-pointer at the buzzer of the third quarter and Lorbek made it a three-point game at the start of the fourth.
But Parker scored with jumper and Nando de Colo’s layup restored his team’s 10-point with just under six minutes remaining in the game.
“We all played good defense and we moved the ball well in the attack, we were able to put Tony in position,” de Colo said.
Goran Dragic, who finished with 18 points, made two free throws to leave his team seven behind and 1:21 on the clock.
Parker had two turnovers late in the game but he cut inside to score with a layup and made one of two free throws to make it a 10-point game again with 41 seconds remaining.
Spain led by as many as 40 points at one stage in the first of the quarterfinals and made 13 of 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
“It was our best game of the tournament so far,” Spain coach Juan Orenga said. “Our goal is to grow during the tournament and win the gold medal.”
Spain had struggled through the first two rounds, losing three of eight games. But it may have been saving its best for the really important games.
“We played aggressive, it was time to show everybody what we can do,” Spain point guard Ricky Rubio said.
Spain caught Serbia cold at the start and quickly pulled away. The shot abandoned Serbia, which went 1-for-11 from the field in the first quarter.
“Our hands were just tied. Most of us had never played against a rival so strong as Spain,” Serbia guard Nemanja Nedovic said. “They got a big lead early.”
By the time Serbia’s defense began to show signs of life, Spain had a comfortable double-digit lead and finished the first quarter 16 points up.
“We prepared very seriously for this game, we knew we had to play with energy from the start,” said Rubio, who had six rebounds, six assists and four steals to go with five points.
Rodriguez made a 3-point play, Serbia turned the ball over and Marc Gasol hit a jumper and put Spain up by 23. The lead grew to 43-17 when Fernando San Emeterio made another jumper.
Pablo Aguilar nailed a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to leave Spain ahead by 25, 48-23.
Victor Claver scored the first seven points of the second half and Sergio Llull added a 3 as Spain completely dominated the hapless Serbs, putting together a 10-0 run.
It took Serbia 4:30 minutes to score its first points of the third quarter, but soon it was 69-29 and a 40-point game as Spain put on a basketball clinic for the tournament’s youngest side.
“It was a shame how we played today,” said Serbia’s captain Nenad Krstic, who only played 13 minutes after being double-teamed by the aggressive Spanish defense. “Usually our outside shooters can compensate, but we didn’t have our shot today.”
“We are a young team and we certainly lacked experience today,” Krstic said.
Serbia has nine newcomers with no experience of a major event. The Serbs play Slovenia on Thursday in the playoffs for places 5 to 8, with the winner qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Spain. The top seven teams will all qualify for the tournament, with Spain holding a direct slot as host.
Serbia lost the 2009 final to Spain, was fourth at the 2010 world championship, but then flopped at the Europeans two years ago and failed to qualify for the London Olympics last year.