by Dan Casey
Spain needed overtime to defeat France and claim the bronze medal with a 61-53 win.
The top two defenses in the tournament faced off in the game for 3rd place and the it was a predictably tight, physical encounter.
The French team will be gutted after pouring so much effort into a fourth-quarter comeback, but Spanish guard Ignasi Moix will be relieved his team survived the overtime period after missing a pair of free throws with 3 seconds remaining in regulation.
Ilimane Diop scored Spain's first four points, and it took France 3:35 to register their first score, a Damien Inglis three-pointer. Arthur Rozenfeld drove inside to hit a tough lay-up to cut Spain's lead to 14-9 at the end of the first period.
David Iriarte hit a jump-shot to beat the shot-clock buzzer in the second quarter and maintain Spain's advantage at 20-15. The Spanish offense then started clicking into gear as Jose Nogues and Moix hit three-pointers, and Alberto Martin found Carlos Garcia inside to extend the lead to 33-18.
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Trailing by 12 at half-time, the French were frustrated in their efforts to come back in the third quarter. France began the period with a 7-2 run, but were held scorerless for the final 3:10 as Spain responded with a 7-0 run. Diop passed out of the post for Moix to hit a three-pointer, and Martin made a tough driving lay-up to re-instate Spain's 12-point advantage.
France had one last chance to stake their claim for the bronze medal, and responded by holding Spain to just 5 points in the final period. Two early steals set the tone, Thomas Ville passing to Inglis for a lay-up and then Paul Rigot taking his steal all the way for a dunk.
Nogues fouled Inglis on a three-point attempt and Inglis calmly knocked down all three free throws, but the lead was still 9 points. The lead was cut to six points on Olivier Yao-Delon's three-pointer, and the score remained at 46-40 for the next 3:44 as both defenses clamped down in a tense finale. During the scoreless period, Inglis picked up his fifth foul of the game competing for a rebound.
But France survived the loss of their captain as Paul-Lou Duwiquet drove inside to break the drought and convert a three-point play. Duwiquet then drew an offensive foul on Spanish captain Agusti Sans on the next play.
Ferran Ventura made one free throw to put Spain 47-43 ahead with 0:43 remaining, but Rozenfeld quickly got inside to draw a goal-tending call on Diop and cut the lead to two points. Spain couldn't get a shot off on the ensuing possession, and French coach Tahar Assed-Liegeon called time-out with 0:09 remaining.
Rozenfeld drove baseline from the inbounds, drew the foul and watched as his lay-up rolled agonisingly out of the basket. But he got up to calmly hit the game-tying free throws, and Moix couldn't hit his free-throws so the game went to overtime.
Ardia Cantenys opened the extra period with a three-pointer, and Spain never trailed. Despite losing Martin and Sans as both fouled out, the Spanish team retained their composure to score their final 8 points from the free-throw line. The French team tried to come back again, but after Rozenfeld's tough drive and floater over Diop, the French team couldn't score in the final 1:39 as the Spanish defense held firm to secure the bronze medal which had so nearly slipped away from them.
The Spanish defense held France to 31% shooting in the contest and forced 27 turnovers. Diop's double-double included four of the free throws down the stretch as he tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Nogues added 10 points and 9 rebounds. It is Spain's 5th medal in the last 7 years.
Inglis, Rozenfeld and Rigot top-scored for France with 10 points, Rigot adding 9 rebounds and Inglis with 2 blocked shots. France's 4th place is their best ranking since 2008.