Pau and Marc Gasol powered Spain past Tony Parker and the French squad on Wednesday 66-59 and will advance to the semifinals to play Russia on Friday.
The game almost turned into a brawl in the closing seconds after two unsportsmanlike penalties were called on France’s Ronny Turiaf and Nicholas Batum for fouling with excessive force.
Turiaf and Batum gave two back-to-back hard hits to Rudy Fernandez and Juan-Carlos Navarro in the final seconds that caused both benches to clear and forced the officials to jump in and restrain the team’s from going after one another.
After Diaw missed a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter, Turiaf knocked Fernandez down at midcourt in a heap and was called for a flagrant foul. Fernandez then hit one-of-two free-throws to put Spain up 63-57.
With 23 seconds remaining, Batum ran into Navarro on an inbounds pass, knocking Navarro to the floor and bringing more than half a dozen players together in what looked about to erupt into a fight before officials stepped in to separate them.
“Everybody wants to fight for those medals, Marc Gasol told Reuters in post-game comments. Sometimes it gets a little out of hand because emotions get involved. Nobody got hurt, that’s the most important thing.”
Marc led Spain with 14 points and added eight rebounds in the contest, and brother Pau, chipped in with 10 points and a game-high 11 boards. Navarro (12) was also in double-figures for Spain.
France was led by NBA teammates Boris Diaw and Tony Parker who scored 15 points apiece, Florent Pietrus (10) was also in double-figures. To put it bluntly, Parker had a terrible game. He took five more shots than he had points and posted a horrible 30 percent (6-of-20) shooting performance in the contest while only accumulating one assist in 38 minutes of action with two turnovers. Parker had no steals in the matchup but did grab six caroms.
Spain’s triumph over France propels them to the next round where they will face off against the Russian Federation, who are fresh off a 83-74 victory over Lithuania. France is eliminated with the defeat.
2012 Olympic Basketball Semi-finals Schedule
Spain vs Russia — Friday at Noon (ET)
USA vs Argentina — Friday at 4:00 PM (ET)