Basketball Spain Sets Up Crucial Rematch With Serbia

Serbia had earlier needed a last-second winner to defeat Croatia 73-72 in their last 16 clash.

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Spain defeated Greece 80-72 to reach the World Basketball Championship quarterfinal yesterday and set-up a rematch of last year's European title showdown with Serbia.

Croatia's Kresimir Loncar, right, putting up a shot as Serbia's Nenad Krstic, September 4, 2010. Credit: AP

Serbia had earlier needed a last-second winner to defeat Croatia 73-72 in their last 16 clash.

With their tournaments on the line, both Spain and Greece, who had endured some indifferent form in group play, went point for point in the opening quarter, with both teams shooting at over 60 percent from the floor.

Paul Lopez led Spanish scoring in the first half with seven points while Greek Vasileios Spanoulis was leading all scorers with 10.

Spurred by a blocked shot from Maccabi Tel Aviv's Sofoklis Schortsantis, Greece started the third quarter on a 7-0 scoring run, bringing them back to within a point and forcing Spanish coach Sergio Scariolo to call the timeout.

While the timeout was able to stall the Greek momentum, Spain were still unable re-open the gap, leading by a just a point (52-51 ) with a quarter to play. But Spain ramped up the pressure in the final quarter when Greece's offensive system broke down.

Memphis Grizzly Marc Gasol had led his Spanish teammates throughout pool play but with Greece effectively holding him to four points it was Portland Trailblazer Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro who carried the team with 14 and 22 points respectively.

Dimitrios Diamantidis and Nikolaos Zisis were the best of the Greeks, both finishing with 16 points.

Battle of the Balkans

Earlier, Aleksander Rasic scored five points in the last 21 seconds to help Serbia edge Croatia. Croatian guard Marko Popovic made two free throws with five seconds left to tie the game at 72-72, but Rasic was fouled by Davor Kus as he attempted a shot with a second left.

Rasic made a free throw and Marko Tomas' full-court shot fell short as time expired. Croatia made five of 24 three-point attempts; Serbia made five of 15.

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