SHANGHAI – Spain will play the FIBA World Cup semifinals for the first time in 13 years after it beat Poland 90-87 at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai.
Spain thus extended its unbeaten streak at the World Cup to six matches and will play either Australia or the Czech Republic in the semis.
The Spanish squad had to put in some hard work against a tough Polish team that proved it was one of the best teams in the tournament, despite being knocked out on Tuesday.
As expected, the victory was not easy and was not certain until the closing minutes of the game.
It was Ricky Rubio who, as usual, led the Spanish attack, as he scored 19 points, making nine assists and earning five rebounds.
Rudy Fernandez, who scored five three-pointers out of five attempts, and the Hernangomez brothers; Juancho and Willy, all put on great performances.
Rubio scored eight points at the early stages to put Spain three points ahead of Poland (12-9) in the fifth minute.
Poland reacted accordingly, tying the score at 18-18 just four minutes later, but the Spaniards managed to end the first quarter in their favor (22-18).
The Spain squad tried to maintain the team’s defense strategy that allowed it to defeat Italy and Serbia in the previous phase, yet this strategy was not as successful against Poland, a team that was a long-range threat.
The game was difficult for the Spaniards until Juancho Hernangomez took to the court in the second quarter, and then shot off 12 sudden points within three minutes and a half, including three three-pointer shots, giving Spain a 35-28 lead.
Rudy Fernandez followed Juancho’s lead and scored another three-pointer to enlarge the gap further.
Spain maintained its superiority over the course of the second quarter as the team recovered its scoring accuracy, ending the first half of play with a 46-41 lead.
After the intermission, Spain kept up its dominance, widening the point differential gap to 13 points in the 25th minute (62-49), to eventually end the third quarter 67-58.
The Polish squad did not throw in the towel however and tried to keep its World Cup semi hopes alive.
Poland national team managed to narrow the gap to just four points by minute 35 (76-72), but it was their last sign of resistance, as Spain managed to score 11 consecutive points within the following three minutes, making it a 15-point gap.
The Spanish side maintained its upper hand until the end of the match (90-78).