Gasol rises to the occasion for Spain

 thehindu.com  09/13/2019 16:55:23 

NBA champion Marc Gasol saved Spain on Friday as it beat Australia 95-88 after a thrilling second overtime period in its semifinal and will play Argentina in the basketball World Cup final.

An enthralling match between Australia and Spain was 71-71 at the end of regulation time and the two sides could not be separated at the end of a nervy first overtime.

Finally, the 2006 champion Spain prevailed to reach Sundays final after the Boomers appeared to run out of juice.

Sergio Llull hit two three-pointers in the second overtime for Spain to cap its comeback, having trailed for long periods during regulation time.

Gasol, the Toronto Raptors centre, finished with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists after stepping up when his country needed him most.

Argentina is one win away from its first title since 1950 after it brushed aside France 80-66 in the other semifinal.

Argentina opened the game up with a 10-2 run that saw Luis Scola, the age-defying 39-year-old, dominate the court. The South Americans led 39-32 at half-time and were never in serious danger of surrendering their advantage after that.

Scola, the grand old man of basketball, finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and two assists. He was given a huge ovation when he stepped off the court near the end.

With an average height of 68 (203 cm), France has one of the tallest rosters at the 32-team World Cup. But it had little effect on Argentina, which was up 52-38 midway through the third quarter and on the way to a big win.

The results (semifinals): Spain 95 (Gasol 33, Rubio 19, Lull 17) bt Australia 88 (Mills 34, Kay 16, Bogut 12).

Argentina 80 (Scola 28, Deck 13, Campazzo 12) bt France 66 (Fournier 16, Ntilikina 16, de Colo 11).

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