Semi-Final: Spain 95 Italy 78

17.07.2004

For an appetizer we had a defensive game in the first of the Semi-Finals, but the second was the exact opposite.

In the first Turkey scored 57 and France only 55. In the second, Spain already had 50 points by half time. Spain got the 2nd ticket for the Final and will face Turkey for a gold-medal battle. For the second night in a row Spain faced almost no problems against one of the best teams in the games. After beating Russia by 20 points in the quarters, Spain continued to demolish its opponents, and tonight we witnessed an easy 17 point win over Italy.

A thundering start for Spain left Italy speechless and scoreless for 2:30 minutes. But before the lights went out on Italy, it went out in the arena, and the teams had to take a rest for several minutes until the place was lit again. Italy managed to score its first bucket from the hands of Lechthaler.

Marco Belinelli had only 4 points
With 3 minutes to play in the 1st Spain had only one player with fouls, but it was its super-star Sergio Rodriguez, who was whistled for his 2nd. Italy was down by only 4, 18-14, and it looked like the perfect timing to make a push, but Rodriguez and Antelo with 4 points each led a 10-0 run, and Spain had twice as much points as Italy after 10 minutes, 28-14.

Spain wasn't stop there. Antelo added 4 more and made it a 17 point game, 32-15. Spain had to give up on Rodriguez for the rest of the quarter after he committed his 3rd foul in the 12th minute, but all Spain lacked was the magical passes and great penetrations of the great guard. The full control over what was going on in the game continued as usual. First came the first 20 point margin, 37-17, then Belinelli, in a very weak 1st half (only 2 points), went to the bench and Spain made it 43-20. Game over? Not yet. With Belinelli on the bench it was Antonutti who took over, and led a 1-9 run by Italy, which opened the door for a more encouraging 7-17 run up to the end of the first half. Still, it was enough for a 13 point lead for Spain, 50-37. The local inside players were so dominating in the paint that by half time they both had a double-double - Fontet with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Antelo with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Luca Vitali and Albert Fontet
Italy opened the 2nd half with a big three pointer from Luca Vitalli, and with a fast 2 from Antonutti we had a new game, 50-42. The game continued at high tempo as Garcia blocked Belinelli on one side and Datome blocked Rodriguez on the fast break in the other side of court, but Italy kept on pushing for a tie. 3:22 minutes had gone by in the 3rd quarter when Italy made it a 6 point game, 52-46. Spain’s answer came from the 3 point line with 3 shots in a row. First by Suarez, second by Aspe and last by Rodriguez, and Italy was once again trailing by double-digits, 68-56 at the end of the 30th minute.

Spain opened the last quarter with one more run to make sure Italy didn't have any comeback wishes. Suarez with 2 triples and Rodriguez with a huge coast-to-coast, pushed Spain to an 18 point lead, 78-60, and stuck a fork in the Italian dish. Sergio Rodriguez had a great pull up jumper from behind the 3 point line, followed by a steal and an easy lay up, setting the margin back to 20, 87-67, and that was finally it.


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