Pau, Spain Smash France, Advance to Semis

gasol_spain_fistSo much for an injured finger.

For the second straight night in EuroBasket 2009, Pau Gasol looked to be in midseason NBA form, leading the Spaniards with 28 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in an impressive 86-66 victory over previously undefeated France.

With the win, Spain not only advances to face the winner of Turkey and Greece on Saturday in the EuroBasket semifinals, but it earns an automatic berth in the 2010 World Championships after guaranteeing themselves a Top 6 EuroBasket finish.

Throughout the game, a France squad featuring NBA players Tony Parker, Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum had no answer for Gasol, who routinely had his way around the rim with an array of touch shots, layups and dunks. Gasol also showed some of his 2008-09 playoffs defensive form behind three blocks of Turiaf, causing consistent problems in the paint for France.

Teammate Rudy Fernandez, whose alley-oop pass to Gasol late in the fourth was the game’s final dagger, added 16 points for the Spaniards, while No. 5 overall draft pick Ricky Rubio contributed eight points, four assists and four rebounds. Pau’s brother Marc chipped in six points and five boards in the victory, while Juan Carlos Navarro added 11 points and four dimes.

Parker managed just six points, three assists and a rebound in limited minutes for the French, who were led by 12 points and four boards from Turiaf and nine points with six boards from Diaw.

Spain’s victory came a night after their 90-68 victory over Poland, in which Gasol scored 20 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and three blocks.