“We knew we had to give everything to beat this team”. Gobert had eight points and 13 rebounds, but him fouling out late in overtime helped Gasol get free for those dunks.
But the 35-year old from Barcelona, a double National Basketball Association champion with his previous team Los Angeles Lakers, was unstoppable in attack as Spain finished off their opponents with an 8-0 run. Tony Parker had a big bucket in overtime, but shot 4-for-17.
Spain had lost twice in group play, while France was undefeated in seven games coming into the semifinal.
France had an immensely hard time dealing with Pau Gasol, who scored a whopping 40 points, while grabbing 11 rebounds and recording three blocks during the game. Spain went on to tie France by outscoring Les Bleus, 18-10, in the fourth quarter, with an off-the-dribble bounce from Gasol providing a major spark in the waning moments of regulation. Spain escaped with a 80-75, overtime victory to book its ticket to Rio, and France can only look back at a blown opportunity on its home floor. Gasol’s last dunk confirmed the victory.
Regardless of which side moves on to the final, it will need to be wary of the multidimensional Gasol.
Sergio Rodriguez dropped 15 points, but he was the only other Spanish player to finish in double figures. Batum and Nando de Colo added 14 each for France. France will have to earn a spot in a FIBA qualifying tournament in 2016.
Greece placed fifth because of its higher ranking by the sport’s ruling body. Latvia and the Czech Republic will play for seventh place and Europe’s final automatic bid to the qualifying tournaments on Friday.
The losing semifinalists also will take part in Olympic qualifying.