Spain came from behind to beat Australia in 2 overtimes and Argentina blasted France to reach Sunday’s FIBA World Cup final, both led by their old guys.
Spain once again found a way to beat Australia in an important international game, while Argentina rolled past giant-killer France to set up a FIBA World Cup final on Sunday between La Roja and El Alma Argentina.
Spain needed two overtimes to beat Australia 95-88. Argentina needed no such late heroics, dominating France in an 80-66 victory.
This will be the eighth meeting between the nations at the FIBA World Cup, with the Spaniards holding a 5-2 edge.
However, it was Argentina that won their last FIBA World Cup meeting, beating Spain 86-81 in first-round group play in 2010 at Kayseri, Turkey.
Spain won the last meeting in international competition between the sides, hammering out a 92-73 win at the Rio Olympics in 2016 during the group stage.
For Argentina, it is their third appearance in the final and their first since losing to Yugoslavia at Indianapolis in 2002.
Argentina hosted and won the initial FIBA World Championships in 1950.
Spain is in the final for just the second time and the first since they won the gold medal in Japan in 2006.
In Friday’s semifinals, each of the winners was led by their old guys.
Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors, who was a 21-year-old on Spain’s gold-medal winning squad in 2006, scored 33 points — 29 after halftime– and Spain took control with a 10-0 run in the second overtime period to put away the Boomers, who had a chance to win it at the end of regulation.
Gasol helped force the second extra session, making two free throws with four seconds remaining in the first overtime.
Neither team shot the ball well in the first semifinal. Spain made only 41.8 percent (33-for-79) overall and was only 11-for-37 (29.7 percent) from 3-point range. The Australians were worse at 37.6 percent (32-for-85) and 10-for-40 (25 percent).
Mills needed 25 shots to score his 34 points and he also finished with seven of Australia’s 22 turnovers. Points off turnovers was the difference maker in the game, as Spain held a 25-9 advantage in that category.
But the Boomers also squandered an 11-point lead in the game. Australia went up 50-39 with 4:50 to go in the third quarter before Spain rallied, to close to within 55-51 at the quarter break.
Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns added 19 points, 12 assists, a team-high seven rebounds and four steals for Spain despite 6-for-19 shooting. Sergio Llull added 17 points and six assists and Victor Claver notched three steals.
Nic Kay had a double-double for Australia, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz had 10 boards and seven assists, but scored only four points while shooting 1-for-9 and missing all six of his 3-point tries.
Andrew Bogut logged 12 points and nine rebounds as the Boomers had a 57-43 edge on the glass. Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers dished out nine assists to go with six points and six turnovers.
After the game, Luc Longley — an assistant coach for Australia — expressed his frustration with the officiating. That came after a profanity-laced tirade from Bogut.
There was no such drama, or aftermath, following the second semifinal. Argentina steadily pulled away from France in the second half in their 80-66 win and, much like Spain, it was the wiliest of veterans who led the way.
Luis Scola, who was on Argentina’s last FIBA World Cup finalist in 2002, was masterful once again. The 39-year-old finished with a game-high 28 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that finished off France and opened a 15-point lead for the Argentinians.
He also grabbed 13 rebounds as Argentina finished the night with a 41-36 edge over the larger Les Bleus on the boards.
Three other Argentinians scored in double figures, led by Gabriel Deck with 13 points. Facundo Campazzo, the 5-foot-10 point guard, had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Luca Vildoza dropped in 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic and Frank Ntilikina of the New York Knicks scored 16 points each for France. For Fournier, that was six points below his tournament average, as he was just 6-for-17 overall and made only 1-of-6 from 3-point range.
Utah’s Rudy Gobert, who had a monstrous game in France’s quarterfinal win over the U.S., was held to three points with 11 rebounds.
France got caught trying to do too much in isolation, with just 11 assists on 23 makes in the game, and shot only 39.0 percent (23-for-59) and was only 7-for-31 (22.6 percent) from long range.
Worse, the French made just 13 of their 25 free throws. Argentina finished 17-for-20 at the stripe, while shooting 40.9 percent (27-for-66) overall and making 9-of-25 (36 percent) from 3-point range.
The tournament will continue Saturday in Beijing. Team USA will take on Poland in the seventh-place game, looking to avoid the program’s first three-game losing streak since FIBA events were opened to professional players in 1992.
That game tips at 4 a.m. Eastern and will be just the second meeting between the teams in the FIBA World Cup. The U.S. beat Poland 91-61 in 1967, the last time the Poles qualified for the event.
The fifth-place game pits Serbia and the Czech Republic at 8 a.m. Eastern in the first meeting between the nations in World Cup play. This is the first appearance for the Czech Republic since it broke off from Czechoslovakia.