Spain likely wanted to avoid Team USA until the gold-medal game at the 2012 Olympics in London, and so far, it looked like that decision is working. The 2008 Beijing silver medalists took one more step forward towards a potential rematch with the Americans, topping France, 66-59, to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic basketball tournament. They will take on Russia, who defeated Lithuania in the first quarterfinal.
The two teams stayed neck-and-neck throughout the second half, and neither squad could buy a basket in the fourth quarter. Both teams went over four minutes without scoring a single point before two free throws by Rudy Fernandez gave Spain a three-point lead with a minute and a half left.
Spain then put the game away with two huge plays on the next two possessions. First, Fernandez stuffed Tony Parker, and Pau Gasol altered Ronny Turiaf's shot at the rim when the loose ball fell his way. Then, on Spain's next possession, Pau Gasol found brother Marc Gasol cutting to the basket for a layup that put Spain up by five points with 45 seconds remaining.
Here was Marc's reaction.
The game was mired by an altercation in the closing seconds involving Nicolas Batum and Juan Carlos Navarro. Batum swung a fist in the direction of Navarro's midsection while trying to foul him, and players from both teams came together. Batum was allowed to stay in the game despite the infraction, but it was an ugly incident that took away from a hard-fought game.