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SHANGHAI, China – Spain will play Australia or Czech Republic in the FIBA World Cup semifinals on Friday, September 13, as Ricky Rubio made history in a 90-78 win over surprise-packages Poland.
The Poles, back in the competition after a 52-year absence, had defied expectations to reach the last 8 in China.
They were behind from the third minute against the Olympic bronze medalists on Tuesday night in Shanghai, with the Phoenix Suns’ Rubio making an electric start for Spain.
He had 9 points in the first half and grabbed his 107th career World Cup assist to become the all-time leader, surpassing Pablo Prigioni of Argentina.
Rubio finished the match with 19 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds.
Juan Hernangomez of the Denver Nuggets surged to 14 points before the break as Spain, ranked No. 2 in the world behind reigning champions the United States, threatened to run riot.
But Poland, who as underdogs had the Shanghai crowd shouting for them, recovered to trail by only 5 points at halftime and stay in touch.
However, with veteran center Marc Gasol peerless, the Spanish always looked in control against the team coached by American Mike Taylor.
The 34-year-old Gasol, who played a key role in the Toronto Raptors’ historic run to the NBA crown, had 10 points and 7 assists.
Strongly fancied Serbia, though, got beaten 97-87 by Argentina to exit the tournament and leave Team USA as the favorites to retain their crown. – Rappler.com