The 2013 FIBA EuroBasket entered a new round Wednesday as the eight-team knockout tournament began following two separate round-robin tournaments. First-round victories mean guaranteed entry into next year's FIBA World Cup and, because hosting Spain earned that honor Friday, only one of the eight teams that made the quarterfinals will leave Slovenia without a berth in next year's Olympic qualifier.
Spain 90, Serbia 60 -- The Spanish squad was a bit underwhelming during pool play in Slovenia, but the star-studded roster certainly stepped up its game for the first round of knockout play. Spain jumped out to a 21-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, picking up the easy victory and securing their spot in the semifinals.
None of Spain's starters played more than 24 minutes of action in the lopsided victory, leaving former NBA guard Sergio Rodriguez to lead the team with 22 points in 24 minutes of action. Rudy Fernandez added 19 and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol added a box score-filling seven points, six assists and five rebounds to round out Spain's best performances.
Serbia's Rasko Katic and Danilo Andjusic tied with a team-high 11 points. After not putting up much of a fight by halftime, their coaching staff seemed to cherish rest for the upcoming loser's bracket more than looking respectable against the outstanding Spanish squad.
France 72, Slovenia 62 -- France pulled away in what was a very tight game through 20 minutes. France led by just two points at halftime, 26-24, but was able to solidify a win in the second half thanks to some impressive work beneath the basket.
The French did a better job getting underneath the rim, and shot 41 percent for the game compared to 34 percent for Slovenia as a result. Tony Parker facilitated the offense, unsurprisingly, racking up a game-high 27 points on 45 percent shooting. Parker was a fixture in the lane. He got to foul line regularly, going 8-for-9 on free throws.
Nicola Batum pitched in 14 points and Boris Diaw had 10 points to help pace the French. Goran Dragic led Slovenia with 18 points, but he got there on 6-for-16 shooting including 1-for-6 on 3-pointers. Slovenia went 6-for-25 beyond the arc as a team, compared to 3-for-10 for France.
Wednesday's winners will play each other on Friday, whereas the losers will enter a four-team loser's bracket -- of which only the eighth team doesn't receive an automatic bid to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.