Spain reaches quarterfinals despite hoop loss to Italians

Serbia stands in way of semifinal slot for champion

Marc Gasol, during the game against Italy.
Marc Gasol, during the game against Italy. JAVIER GANDUL (DIARIO AS)

The Spanish team will play Serbia for a place in the Eurobasket semifinals despite a tension-filled, overtime loss to Italy on Monday.

Tied at the end of the fourth quarter with a layup at the buzzer by forward Luigi Datome, Italy eventually triumphed 86-81.

Both teams had already classified for the quarterfinals, but Spain, which has also endured nail-biting losses to Greece and Slovenia during the championship, was hoping for a win over the Italians to lift the team's spirits before quarterfinal action starts on Wednesday at Ljubljana's Stozice Arena.

Marc Gasol was the best scorer for the Spaniards — 32 points and 10 rebounds — but his court combat couldn't help his teammates show some of the magic that has led them to successive European titles. The Italian team's strong defense and quick moves were too trying for the Spaniards.

Italy had already gotten a solid 24-12 lead after the first quarter with two free throws by Marco Belinelli, who along with the Detroit Pistons' small forward Luigi Datome were the stars on the court. It was sweet revenge for Belinelli — the San Antonio Spurs shooting guard — who missed the first free throws at the beginning of the game.

But it wasn't only the Spaniard's miss-and-call at the hoop. They have been sorely missing two of their biggest stars, Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro, who are both reportedly injured. Gasol watched helplessly from the courtside at Stozice Arena.

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