Hosts are defeated by France in quarter-final to leave tournament open for Team USA…
Day 10 of the FIBA World Cup 2014 perhaps produced the biggest shock thus far as hosts Spain were eliminated from the tournament after their quarter-final loss to France.
Les Bleus secured a 65-52 win in Madrid on Wednesday night to set up a semi-final encounter with Serbia, while USA will take on Lithuania in the other half of the draw.
The Spaniards had dominated France in their group phase meeting, winning by 24 points as they looked every bit of the candidate to dethrone the Americans this year.
However, some great defensive work and offensive rebounding gave France the edge and they ended the hosts’ dream of winning on home soil, and this time all without influential point guard Tony Parker who opted to rest this summer.
“It’s a painful and disappointing defeat,” Pau Gasol said. “We had such high expectations and had played so well until now.”
Point guard Juan Carlos Navarro conceded that they didn’t prepare well and while their shots didn’t fall, going two of 22 from beyond the arc, their opponents played with poise and deserved their victory.
Boris Diaw scored 15 points while Thomas Heurtel added 13 as France also out-rebounded their rivals 50-28. Pau Gasol scored 17 for Spain with brother Marc and Serge Ibaka combining for just 5 points as their effectiveness on the offensive end was nullified.
It is undoubtedly a disappointing end for Spain, but the tournament promises to deliver more thrilling basketball as Serbia will look to avenge their group phase loss to the French after some late and questionable refereeing decisions last time out resulted in a 74-73 defeat.
The unfancied Serbs routed Brazil earlier on Wednesday with key performances from the likes of Milos Teodosic and Bogdan Bogdanovic ensuring that they continue to defy the odds and exceed their own expectations prior to the tournament.
Meanwhile, Team USA will have been given additional motivation after seeing their toughest competition knocked out, and they begin the semi-final action against the Lithuanians on Thursday night.
Serbia 84-56 Brazil
France 65-52 Spain