What was expected to be a close game turned out to be a massive rout as Spain pulled away early to win by a mile, 90-60, against a young Serbian squad that was clearly out of sync.
Missing the services of NBA centers Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka, the Spaniards turned to their backcourt early in the first quarter. Swingman Rudy Fernandez scored three straight triples in the first ten minutes and clogged the passing lane, forcing five turnovers from their opponents and giving up only five points. Serbia then went on a mini-run anchored on Danilo Andjusic and Djordje Gagic at the start of the second quarter and closed the gap to only 12. But Sergio Rodriguez went on a scoring rampage, scoring 14 points and dishing off three assists, spearheading a 13-0 run which ended with Spain leading 48-23 at the half.
Spain's bench then continued the party after the break as Sergio Llull hit a three-pointer and Victor Claver powered his way to a seven-point run, extending the lead to 58-23. They would lead Serbia by 40 throughout the fourth quarter and even a 21-point fourth quarter by Serbia was not enough to overhaul the gaping deficit.
Tuesday's game was proof of Serbia's inconsistency at the European level. In contrast, Spain's veterans kept their composure and dictated the pace of the game, as Serbia was far too slow to respond to the Spaniards' fastbreaking attack.
Spain's big man Marc Gasol had a so-so game, but his offense was not needed much as the guards picked up the slack. Rudy Fernandez had a stellar game, scoring 19 points and grabbing ten rebounds. Serbia could have used the services of Stefan Markovic, who was nursing an injury.
The win puts Spain on a collision course with France for a seat in the Finals. Although Spain is already hosting the 2014 FIBA World Cup, they would like to defend their Eurobasket crown against an upstart France squad that has four NBA veterans in the roster. Serbia, on the other hand, will tangle with Slovenia for one of the remaining two slots in the World Cup.
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