SPAIN 2014: USA, Slovenia, France and Spain reach Quarters
BARCELONA/MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Four sides cleared significant hurdles on Saturday to remain in the hunt for glory at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Defending champions USA rolled to victory over Mexico and then Slovenia edged the Dominican Republic in Barcelona, while in Madrid, France held off a brave comeback bid by Croatia to progress before Spain hammered Senegal.
The outcomes have left the Americans with a Quarter-Final to play against the Slovenians, and one also between France and Spain.
The United States stormed into a 42-27 half-time advantage over Mexico and claimed an 86-63 victory.
Stephen Curry had his best shooting game of the tournament, making six of nine three-balls en route to 20 points.
The USA's perimeter defense did not allow Mexico's vaunted long-range shooting attack to become a factor, with Sergio Valdeolmillos' squad just four of 16.
Gustavo Ayon of Mexico, the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship MVP, did leave a good impression with a 25-point, eight-rebound effort.
Next up for Mike Krzyzewski's USA squad will be a meeting with the Slovenians, who booked a spot in the last eight for the second time in a row with a 71-61 triumph over the Dominican Republic.
Jure Zdovc's squad struggled to put away the Dominicans.
They opened up a 15-point lead in the third quarter only for Orlando Antigua's side to cut the deficit to two in the fourth.
The Dominicans even had possession with an opportunity to pull level or go in front but did not take advantage.
Zoran Dragic helped Slovenia seal victory by making big plays on offense and also defense. He finished with 18 points and four steals.
James Feldeine's 18 points and Jack Martinez's 12 points and 11 rebounds helped the Dominicans in their comeback.
Now those two sides will meet in the last eight.
France had to hold on at the end of their clash with Croatia but prevailed, 69-64.
Les Bleus broke open a close game in the third quarter and led 46-30 late in the frame but Croatia charged back in the fourth.
A three-pointer from the excellent Bojan Bogdanovic pulled Croatia to within 66-64 just 52 seconds from the death.
He then missed a chance to put Jasmin Repesa's team in front with 24 seconds when he was off target with a shot from the arc.
France made three free-throws to clinch the victory.
Nicolas Batum had 14 points and Evan Fournier 13 for France, while Bogdanovic poured in 27 in defeat.
Spain were big winners over Senegal in the last game of Saturday.
Marc Gasol was among the big contributors with nine points, six rebounds and four assists as the tournament hosts won 89-56.
Spain and France have had some memorable clashes in recent years.
In 2009, the Spaniards beat the previously-unbeaten French in the Quarter-Finals en route to their first EuroBasket title, while in 2010 the French defeated Spain in the Group Phase of the FIBA World Championship.
Last year, France defeated Spain in the Semi-Finals of the EuroBasket in Slovenia before capturing their first European crown.