Spain & France to meet again in WCup quarters
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Rivals Spain and France will meet again in the quarterfinals of the Basketball World Cup after both won in the round of 16 on Saturday.
Pau Gasol scored 13 of his 17 points in the first quarter as host Spain routed Senegal 89-56 to remain unbeaten after having also dominated all five games of the group phase.
France, meanwhile, had to overcome an early deficit to eliminate Croatia 69-64, as Nicolas Batum scored 14 points and Evan Fournier had 13 for the European champion.
“Once again Spain, and once again it will be a fight,” France’s Mickael Gelabale said. “We have three days to prepare for this game. France and Spain is like a clasico game, and everybody is waiting for it.”
The neighboring countries have clashed in the past two summers, with Spain ousting France in the 2012 Olympics, and France getting revenge in last year’s European championship.
And just three days ago, Spain beat France 88-64 in the group phase. They will meet again on Wednesday in the Madrid.
On the other side of the bracket held in Barcelona, the United States and Slovenia advanced with wins and will play on Tuesday.
Stephen Curry hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 points to help the U.S. ease to an 86-63 victory over Mexico, which was saved from greater defeat by Gustavo Ayon’s 25 points.
Klay Thompson added 15 points at the Palau Sant Jordi Pavilion as the Americans also remained unbeaten.
While Curry and Thompson hit from outside, Kenneth Faried and DeMarcus Cousins took turns playing well in the paint.
Faried provided bursts of energized play to a lethargic first half. The forward hustled for seven rebounds — he finished with eight — and eight points in the first half. Cousins then took over and scored 11 points in the second half.
“We’ve played better each and every game,” Curry said. ”(We) have focused on some of the weaknesses that we showed early — not starting well, having a little lackadaisical first five minutes. We’ve definitely addressed that and gotten better.”
While the Americans’ victory was anything but surprising, Slovenia outlasted the Dominican Republic 71-61 in a thrilling contest of contrasting styles and scoring runs.
Zoran Dragic scored 18 points and brother Goran of the Phoenix Suns had 12 more for Slovenia’s ball-motion offense, while James Feldeine led the Dominican Republic’s running game with 18 points.
Down by seven points midway through the second period, Slovenia went on a 23-2 scoring run that stretched over halftime to move in front 42-28.
The Dominicans, however, took advantage of Slovenia center Miha Zupan’s leg injury to attack the basket and pull within two points. But Zoran blocked a shot and scored a pair of layups to restore a 10-point lead with under two minutes to go.
Spain had no such trouble with Senegal.
Pau took advantage of Senegal’s lax defense with four quick dunks before he rested for the first time with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
Pau led the team in scoring, and his brother Marc did most of the rest with four of Spain’s 12 blocked shots to go with nine points, six rebounds and four assists.
Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, and Felipe Reyes all chipped in with 11 points each off the bench after Spain got out early, allowing coach Juan Orenga to give more minutes to his reserves.
Forwards Mouhammad Faye and Abdou Badji scored 12 each for Senegal.
France rallied from an eight-point deficit in the first quarter to beat Croatia, which was paced by guard Bojan Bogdanovic’s 27 points.
Seven points by Fournier helped France edge ahead 23-22 by halftime, and Batum scored six consecutive points to open a 16-point lead late in the third period.
Bogdanovic shot Croatia back into contention with a 14-point burst in the final quarter. But the guard missed a contested 3-pointer with under a minute to play that would have given Croatia the lead.
On Sunday, Lithuania plays New Zealand and Turkey faces Australia in Barcelona, while Argentina plays Brazil and Greece takes on Serbia in Madrid.