Spain played like world champions in the second half to erase a huge deficit and escaped with a dramatic 67-59 win over Russia to advance to the gold-medal match of the men’s basketball competition of the 2012 London Olympics.
Russia played with terrific energy to start the game as they limited Spain to just nine points in the first quarter with their tremendous defense, taking control of the tempo of the match.
With their hot shooting from beyond-the-arc, Russia led by as much as 13 points before ending the first half with an 11-point lead and looked poise to duplicate their win over the Spaniards in the preliminary round.
However, Spain caught fire in the second half and roared back as Pau Gasol and company unleashed a huge rally pulled within three points 44-41 after a Gasol three-pointer, before forcing a 46-46 deadlock heading into the final quarter.
Anton Ponkrashov gave Russia a three-point lead to start the fourth period, but Spain answered with a decisive 14-1 run to build a 60-50 lead with 4:27 left in the game.
The Spaniards kept pressuring the Russians and they would not be denied as they escaped with the dramatic win the earned them an Olympic finals berth for the second time in a row.
Pau Gasol finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, Jose Calderon had 14, while Rudy Fernandez and Marc Gasol added 11 points apiece for Spain, who will be gunning to avenge their loss in the gold-medal match in Beijing four years ago.
Spain will face the winner of USA-Argentina semifinals showdown.