Gasol powers Spain past Lithuania
LODZ, Poland -- Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol scored 19 points and had eight rebounds Monday to lead world champion Spain over Lithuania 84-70 in the second round of the European basketball championship.
Trailing 24-15 at the start of the second quarter, Spain guard Rudy Fernandez of the Portland Trail Blazers hit a 3-pointer to spark a 25-3 run over the next seven minutes that put Spain ahead 40-27. The world champs continued to get out on the fast break, and led by 24 in the fourth quarter before pulling most of their starters.
"We played with a very good rhythm today," Gasol said. "We raised our level of intensity and were able to run and play our game. That's more the game that we've been so successful with."
Spain has not played at the level that produced a silver medal at last year's Beijing Olympics and the world title in 2006. The team lost its opening game to Serbia, then fell to Turkey in the first game of the second round.
"I think it was an excellent game from our team," Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. "We are just one step closer to where we want to get. It's a very important step."
Spain faces Poland in its final second-round game and is expected to reach the quarterfinals.
Lithuania has lost its first two second-round games and is assured of missing out on the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001.
In other Group F games, Turkey remained unbeaten with a 69-64 overtime win against Serbia, and Slovenia beat Poland 76-60.
Turkey kept its perfect record at the tournament and clinched a quarterfinal spot. Forward Hedo Turkoglu tipped in a rebound at the buzzer that appeared to give Turkey the win in regulation, but an official review showed the shot was after time had expired.
The Turks then held Serbia scoreless in a sloppy overtime to claim the top spot in Group F.
"I really don't know how we won this game," Turkoglu said. "We led the game the whole night, but we made stupid mistakes that almost cost us the game. But in the end we still had good defense."
Forward Ersan Ilyasova led Turkey with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Slovenia center Erazem Lorbek had 20 points and nine rebounds, and guard Jaka Lakovic added 14 points and six assists. Slovenia held Poland to one point over the first seven minutes of the third quarter to open a 16-point lead that Poland could never close.
"In the second half, we had a bad shooting percentage and we made many turnovers, and against a quality team like Slovenia they make you pay for your mistakes," Poland coach Muli Katzurin said.
The top four teams in Group E and Group F advance to the quarterfinals.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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