A hometown crowd of 13,673 in Madrid were stunned into near silence as Spain was upset 65-52 with a 12-2 run over the final 2.5 minutes by Les Bleus. The powerhouse combination of veterans Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka were outworked and outhustled by France’s pair of 22-year-olds Rudy Gobert and Joffrey Lauvergne and the veteran Boris Diaw.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 10, 2014
Spain had cruised through pool play and the first elimination contest averaging over 88 points per game and never facing a real threat to their supremacy. Even France had bowed down without a fight 88-64 earlier to Spain. However, in the quarterfinals match, France controlled the pace, slowed the game down to a crawl and Spain found themselves in the uncomfortable position of playing from behind for nearly the entire contest.
It didn’t help that Spain shot 2-22 from behind the arc, but France wasn’t doing much better from deep at 6-25, however, the real reason for Spain’s problems came on the glass where France hammered them 50-28 thanks to an unexpected 13 rebounds from Gobert and 10 from Lauvergne.
France’s defense was on target all game and held Spain to just 32 percent shooting from the field and the soon-to-be Jazz sophomore Gobert was a big reason for Spain’s inability to dominate in the paint like they had all tournament. Gobert was only credited with one blocked shot, but he changed many others and was key to keeping the Spanish big men from taking over this game.
At the other end of the court, the Spurs Diaw had an effective 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists to lead France in scoring and point guard Thomas Heurtel had 13 points on 4-7 shooting.
The Bulls Pau Gasol led all scorers with 17 points on 7-12 shooting, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, but the Grizzlies Marc Gasol, Thunder Ibaka and Timberwolves Ricky Rubio each shot 1-7 from the field to seal Spain’s fate.
An unexpected and devastating loss for Spain on their home turf to their biggest European rival who was without their best player is a shock to the fans, tournament organizers and to Team USA. The Americans were game planning for a gold medal match against Spain and now will not have to face the only team expected to threaten them.