Spain, France to meet in EuroBasket with Rio spot at stake

Pau Gasol
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Either Spain or France must wait until one month before the Olympics to learn if it will qualify for Rio in men’s basketball.

The European stalwarts, which combined to win three of the last four Olympic silver medals, meet in the EuroBasket semifinals Thursday with an Olympic berth at stake.

EuroBasket acts as an Olympic qualifying tournament with the finalists receiving Rio spots. Teams that finish third through seventh advance to one of the global, last-chance qualifying tournaments in July.

Spain was nearly knocked out in the EuroBasket group stage last Thursday, beating Germany 77-76 after Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder missed a game-tying free throw attempt with three seconds left.

In the round of 16, Spain was tied with Poland after three quarters before a 25-11 fourth-quarter run.

And in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, Spain trailed Greece in the fourth before emerging with a 73-71 victory.

This Spain team is not reminiscent of the roster that reached the last two Olympic finals. It lacks NBA players Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon and has leaned heavily on Pau Gasol.

Pau Gasol, 35, made six of seven three-pointers against Poland and scored a game-high 27 points against Greece.

France’s roster includes more NBA players than Spain’s — six, including Olympians Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum. France and Serbia, a nation in the other bracket half, are the remaining undefeated teams at EuroBasket.

Spain beat France in the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals.

France, then without Parker, beat Spain, then with both Gasol brothers, Ibaka, Rubio and Calderon, in the 2014 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.

France beat Latvia 84-70 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

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