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France send Spain crashing to set up Semi-Final clash with Serbia
MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - France pulled off one of the biggest upsets at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as the reigning European champions knocked off Spain 65-52 in their second shot at the hosts to reach the Semi-Finals of FIBA's flagship event for the first time ever.
France will face Serbia in Friday's Semi-Final.
Boris Diaw scored 15 points, Thomas Heurtel added 13 for the French, who were beaten by Spain 88-64 a week ago in the Group Phase.
The French dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Spaniards 50-28, with France big man Rudy Gobert coralling 13 on his own.
Spain struggled offensively, going 20 of 62 from the field (32 percent) and made just two of their 22 attempts (nine percent) from beyond the arc.
Diaw's three-pointer to start the scoring matched his point total from the first game against Spain. And it started an 8-0 run to begin the game for France.
The home side finally got on the board through Rudy Fernandez's lay-up with 6:51 left in the quarter before Diaw’s second effort from long range made it 11-2. Spain answered with a 10-0 run for their first lead, 12-11 and the game was tied at 15-15 at the end of the period.
Gobert's follow-up dunk early in the second quarter gave France a 21-17 lead and the cushion grew to 28-21 on a pair of Nicolas Batum free-throws. Les Bleus maintained that seven-point margin at halftime, 35-28.
Urged on by the boisterous Madrid crowd, Spain roared back, scoring the first six points of the second half to close within 35-34.
The French finally scored with 6:44 minutes left in the period through Diaw but the Spanish push continued and they edged in front 40-39 after an unsportsmanlike foul on Florent Pietrus.
France struggled the rest of the quarter but only trailed 43-42 going into the final frame.
Vincent Collet's men had taken Spain's punch and were still standing. The momentum was firmly in their favour as they went ahead 51-45 on Diaw's three-pointer with under seven minutes left.
The versatile forward and Heurtel kept the underdogs ahead 57-52 with less than two minutes to play. The playmaker then nailed a three-pointer with 1:04 remaining for a 60-52 advantage and a stunned Madrid crowd.
There was to be no miracle comeback for Spain in the final minute.
Heurtel hit a pair of free-throws for the first double-digit lead of the night, 62-52, with 46 seconds to go.
Sergio Llull then saw his three-point attempt blocked by Nicolas Batum and Pau Gasol fouled, sending Mickael Gelabale to the line. He made both attempts for a 64-52 cushion with 37 seconds left.
Juan Carlos Navarro missed from beyond the arc and Gasol fouled out when he grabbed Gobert who sank one of two attempts from the charity stripe for the final scoreline.
Gasol finished with a game-high 17 points and Navarro was Spain's only other player to score in double figures with 10.
Wow!! Congrats to France!! Just like last year and without Parker..!! #Spain2014— Petteri Koponen (@KoponenPetteri) September 10, 2014
C'est juste énorme,bravo les gars, battre les espagnols chez eux en 1/4 ...juste kiffant! Ce sport est magique, vous avez été splendide!💪✌— Celine Dumerc (@capsule19) September 10, 2014
WOW!! What a game!!— Kenneth Faried (@KennethFaried35) September 10, 2014