The siblings have helped their squad roll through Group A without much resistance, and on Wednesday the Gasols led Spain to an 88-64 victory over France in the penultimate group game.
Perhaps Pau Gasol, whose 15 points were second only to his brother's 17, gave France a bit too much credit before tipoff:
Amin Elhassan of ESPN summarized the lopsided game well:
More appropriately, how do you say "clownin" in Spanish? Because that's what Spain is doing....clownin— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) September 3, 2014
You know it's a loaded starting frontcourt when Oklahoma City Thunder starter Serge Ibaka is relegated to bench duty in international competition, though Ibaka did have 10 points and eight rebounds in this one.
Marc Gasol wouldn't relent coming out of the gates, helping the Spaniards build a 44-34 halftime lead, per NBA.com's John Schuhmann:
Marc Gasol played the first 14:35 of this game.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) September 3, 2014
Versatile big man Joffrey Lauvergne, who led France with 19 points in their first 2014 FIBA win over Serbia, needed a big game for the French to have any chance. However, the 22-year-old came up rather small against the Gasols with eight points, five rebounds and three fouls. San Antonio Spurs standout Boris Diaw also disappointed for France, shooting just 1-of-6 from the field and offsetting three assists with three turnovers.
Nicolas Batum of Portland Trail Blazers fame matched the French's best with 11 points, though it came on just 5-of-15 shooting. Erik Gundersen of The Columbian noted how Batum wasn't making an impact in other areas of the game either:
Final: Spain 88, France 64. Marc Gasol lead Spain with 17 points. Nic Batum with a rough shooting night: 11 points on 5/15 FG, 2 reb, 1 stl.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) September 3, 2014
In defeat, France hit just five of 25 attempts from beyond the arc. Antoine Diot came off the bench for 11 points—the only other French player in double figures.
Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders suggested an alternative lineup strategy:
If France went with a lineup of Diot/Jackson/Fournier/Batum/Diaw, that would be pretty tough to stop.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) September 3, 2014
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio dished out a game-high six assists and matched Marc Gasol's top total of three steals, as Spain frustrated France and thwarted its offensive rhythm.
Rubio has been a prominent fixture for Spain in international play, per Elhassan:
Rubio has played 100 games for Spanish National Team. He's only 23.....SMH!— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) September 3, 2014
Any chance of a comeback looked pretty dim in light of France's circumstances entering the final quarter:
Despite flurry of France TOs & fouls, Spain didn't really extend lead until end of the 3rd Q. ESP 65, FRA 50 to start the 4th.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) September 3, 2014
A strong all-around team gives Spain some serious teeth as it prepares for the final group matchup with Serbia, where it hopes to go a perfect 5-0 and position itself for a run at the tournament title.
The U.S. will likely be Spain's biggest competition moving forward. Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post hinted at the Americans' prowess after they crushed the Dominican Republic 106-71 on Wednesday:
Watching the US destroy subpar teams in the FIBA World Cup has been amusing.— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) September 3, 2014
Who will win the 2014 FIBA World Cup?
France still has a great chance to get into the round of 16 as long as it can take care of business against Iran, which has gone just 1-3 in Group A. The two losses are disappointing, yet it may be good for France to have a chip on its shoulder ahead of the next FIBA World Cup phase.