FIBA World Cup The game against Australia went to double overtime

Andrew Bogut (Australia) and Marc Gasol (Spain) wait for the ball to...
Andrew Bogut (Australia) and Marc Gasol (Spain) wait for the ball to drop.

Spain have reached their second ever FIBA World Cup final after beating Australia 95-88 at LeSports Center in Beijing, but La Roja had to battle the Boomers all the way into double overtime before they were able to pull away and secure the victory.

Marc Gasol, Spain’s best and most reliable player, was exceptional as he recorded 33 points, hitting big shots and being involved in key plays throughout the match for La Roja. Then there is the influence of Ricky Rubio, a constant threat with his creativity, which is exemplified by his 12 assists and 19 points. Particularly in double overtime, Spain leant on Sergio Llull to do what he does best: hit three-pointers and become the focal point of the offense. But overall, this was a team effort, although La Roja were seconds away from losing to Australia in both regulation time and at the end of the first overtime.

For 39 minutes and 51.3 seconds, it seemed as though the Boomers would be the ones playing in Sunday’s final. However, a late foul by Andrew Bogut send Marc to the line for two free throws, which he made with ease to give La Roja a 71-70 lead. The drama did not end there, though, as Patty Mills hit one of his two free throws to send the game into overtime.

Despite giving up those free throws to Mills at the end of regulation time, which could have seen Spain lose the game if he’d made both, La Roja came into overtime with an air of confidence. Marc and Ricky inspired their teammates and ensured that even when the Boomers went on a run, they would come right back at them. Just as Marc had hit two pressure-filled free throws late in regulation time, he did the same at the end of overtime to send the game to double overtime; as everyone in the arena felt the tension, Marc acted as if he was simply shooting free throws in his garden.

Finally for Spain, it was in double overtime where they were able to take advantage of a tiring Australia and display their superior quality. It had been Marc and Ricky playing a key role in keeping La Roja in the match up to this point, with Australia leading for much of the game, but it was one of the most hot and cold players in the Spanish squad who stepped up: Sergio Llull. The Real Madrid guard was able to catch fire and hit two crucial three-pointers to put a stranglehold on Australia’s hopes of emerging with a victory. What should not be forgotten, though, is the fight that the Boomers’ players showed for the entirety of the match; it was a wonderful battle between the two countries.

Now, Spain will have their chance to win their second ever FIBA World Cup. Back in 2006, La Roja beat Greece 70-47 with Juan Carlos Navarro, Jorge Garbajosa and Carlos Jimenez leading the way (Pau Gasol was unavailable due to injury), while it will be the likes of Marc, Ricky, Rudy Fernandez, Llull and Victor Claver who will want to secure a gold medal of their own. Spain’s opponents in Sunday’s final will be Argentina after they beat France 80-66.

Geoff Gillingham