Alexa

Gasol leads Spain past Lithuania 91-86

Gasol leads Spain past Lithuania 91-86

Pau Gasol had 19 points as Spain defeated Lithuania 91-86 on Friday night to advance to the Olympic gold medal game for the first time since 1984.
Rudy Fernandez bounced back from a third-quarter head injury to score 18 for the Spaniards, who will face either the U.S. or Argentina for the gold medal Sunday. The U.S. drubbed Spain 119-82 in pool play.
"This just made us more confident for the final," Spanish captain Carlos Jimenez said. "We're going to go all out in the final even if we're facing the U.S."
Spain is looking to add an Olympic title to the world championship it won two years ago in Japan.
"Indeed against the U.S. last time, we did a terrible job," coach Aito Garcia said. "We'll see what happens. The U.S. players are really outstanding."
Simas Jasaitis and Sarunas Jasikevicius each scored 19 points for Lithuania, which will play for the bronze medal for the fifth straight time.
Lithuania led for long stretches but couldn't overcome 18 turnovers.
"It was a very tough game against a very good team," Lithuania's Ramunas Siskauskas said. "We had a chance to win, but we didn't take The Spaniards danced at center court after the horn sounded. They have won three straight since their whipping by the U.S. Spain defeated Angola 98-50 in pool play, then beat Croatia 72-59 in the quarterfinals.
Early on, it looked like Spain would breeze. But after Spain took a 28-20 lead midway through the second quarter, the Lithuanians awoke and went on a 14-4 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by 6-foot-11 Ksistof Lavrinovic.
Lithuania hit five 3-pointers _ three by Simas Jasaitis _ in the final 3:50 of the first half to take a 42-40 lead into intermission.
The second half was a riveting possession-by-possession battle, with neither team able to open up a lead of more than four points.
Lithuania clung to the lead until Felipe Reyes drove for a layup to put Spain ahead 55-54 with 2:43 to go in the third quarter. Jasaitis answered with another 3-pointer seconds later.
Fernandez went to the floor late in the third period after apparently bumping heads with Lavrinovic. Clutching his forehead, Fernandez got up after several minutes and was helped to the bench.
Spain tied it up again at 62-62 when Gasol converted a 3-point play with 8 seconds to go in the third. But with 1.8 seconds left, Gasol fouled Lavrinovic as he sank a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc. Lavrinovic hit the free throw to give Lithuania a 66-62 lead heading into the final quarter.
Gasol responded with another 3-point play to make it 69-69 with 9 minutes to go.
Fernandez returned early in the fourth quarter, and he gave Lithuania headaches.
Moments after returning, Fernandez gathered in a court-long pass and dunked to put Spain up 73-71 with 7:17 to go.
On Spain's next possession, Fernandez hit a fallaway 3-pointer. After intercepting a pass at the other end, Fernandez drove and was knocked into the photographers' well behind the bucket.
He hit the free throws to put Spain up 78-74.
Two possessions later, Fernandez drove and fed Gasol, who drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Linas Kleiza.
Spain built an 81-74 lead with 3 minutes to play as the Lithuanians went nearly 4 minutes without a point.
Jasikevicius hit a 3-pointer to pull Lithuania within 89-86 with 5.8 seconds to play, but Jimenez made two free throws to ice the game for Spain.