In one of the biggest upsets in international basketball history, France beat hosts Spain 65—52 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup where the reigning European champions will play Serbia, who eased past Brazil. Boris Diaw was the leading scorer for France with 15 points while Thomas Huertel was a strong complement with 13 points.
France had an excellent rebounding performance with 50 rebounds, 22 more than Spain. Rudy Gobert led the way on the glass with 13 rebounds and Joffrey Lauvergne followed closely behind with 10 rebounds.
“I am very, very happy that the team won. I’m very proud of the team and the staff for believing. Not a lot of people believed that we could win that game. But we did and that showed on the court,” said Diaw.
“We knew to win we had to play perfectly on defence — not on offense but on defence because Spain get their confidence on offense,” said France coach Vincent Collet, whose team lost 88—64 to Spain in group play. The normally powerful Spanish offense had trouble creating open shots versus Les Bleus. Spain made just 2 of 22 three—pointers. Pau Gasol led the game for Spain with 17 points and eight rebounds while Juan Carlos Navarro had 10 points.
France got off to a strong start, opening the game on an 11—2 run powered by two Diaw three—pointers. Spain scored the next 10 points but France led 35—28 at halftime.
Spain started strong in the third quarter and grabbed the lead 40—39, but the hosts’ advantage was just 43—42 after three quarters. France came back strong in the fourth and even pulled away as Spain became tighter and tighter while France continued to believe they could win. The 52 points was Spain’s lowest point total of the tournament.
France and Serbia match up for the second time in the tournament after France won 74—73 on a controversial ending. The Serbs booked their spot in the semis by beating Brazil 84—56.
Milos Teodosic poured in 23 points, Bogdan Bogdnovic had 12 and both Miroslav Raduljica and Nenad Krstic had 10 points in the win for Serbia, who lost to Brazil 81—73 in group play earlier at the World Cup.
“We played like a team and really had a strong second half. I think we deserved this win,” said Raduljica.
Anderson Varejao and Marquinhos Vieira both had 12 points for Brazil, who failed to reach the top four of the Worlds for their seventh straight tournament.
Serbia got some great play from Teodosic in the first quarter in building a five—point lead, which was 21—17 after one quarter.
Alex Garcia gave Brazil the lead 23—21 with two three—pointers but the Serbs responded with an 8—0 run. Brazil answered with a 9—0 spurt of their own before Serbia finished the first half with eight straight points and a 37—32 lead.
Serbia came out strong after the break to take the third quarter 29—12 and never looked back.
The United States and Lithuania will play in the Barcelona semi—final on Thursday while Serbia and France play on Friday in Madrid.