Spain's superstar Pau Gasol decided the outcome in the quarterfinal against Israel with an amazing fourth quarter performance. Gasol scored 14 straight points for Spain as their lead grew from 61-57 to 75-64 in the fourth quarter.
|Pau Gasol had 25 points and 7 rebounds against Israel|
Pau Gasol finished the game with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. He shot 8 of 11 from the floor and 9 of 11 from the line. Gasol had 3 rim-rattling dunks in his 14 point outburst in the fourth. Spain also got a good perfromance from Gasol's fellow big man Jose Garbajosa who scored 13 points on 4 for 7 shooting.
"Spain have a better team than we do. Gasol is a great player. He made the difference today.", said Israeli coach Muli Katzurin.
When the fourth quarter started the score was 58 to 51 in favour of Spain. Israel started the final period well and got to within 61-57 when Derrick Sharp hit one of his four 3-pointers of the night. That is when Gasol took over and won the game for Spain. Up until that point the game had been surprisingly close. Spain came in to the game heavy favourites over Israel, and is considered one of the favourites to winning the tournament.
Israel, coming off a surprise win agasint Slovenia to advance to the quarterfinals, played a good game and gave Spain all kinds of trouble, but fell short in the end as they could not find an answer for Gasol down the stretch. Guard Meir Tapiro filled up the stat sheet for Israel. He had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and also commited 6 turnovers. Derrick Sharp, 16 points on 4-8 shooting from 3-point land, and Ido Kozikaro, 13 points points also had good games for Israel.
Israeli star player Tal Burstein had one of his poorer performances in the national team jersey at exactly the wrong occation. Burstein played 38 minutes but scored only 5 points and shot 2 for 9 in the game.
"Israel played like we expected them to. A lot of one-on-one. It is always difficult to pay against them.", said Spainsh coach Moncho Lopes. "Our main goal was to go to the Olympic Games. Now we will play for the medals."
"I hope Greece win against Italy. In that case we are in the Olympic Games.", added Spanish captain Alberto Herreros after the game.
Spain won the battle of the boards with a big margin, 31 to 19. Spain also committed only 15 fouls compared to 26 fouls for Greece. The big difference in fouls also was evident in the free throw attempts for the teams. Spain went to the line 30 times and hit 24 of their foul shots, while Israel only got to the line for 6 attempts and hit all of them.
Spain moves on to the semifinals where they will face the winner in the game between Greece and Italy played later Thursday evening.