EUROBASKET 2011Turning Point: Serbia trailed 43-34 early in the third quarter when Spain reeled off 14 consecutive points to pull away.
Game Heroes: The Gasol Brothers. Pau Gasol had eight third-quarter points and finished with a game-high 26 points on 9 of 11 (82%) shooting. Marc Gasol pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to go with his 20 points.
Stats Don't Lie: Serbia were out-rebounded 40 to 29.
Spain cruised past Serbia, 84-59, behind a great performance by the Gasol brothers to seal a quarter-final spot in style.
The Spaniards, who hammered the Serbians in the gold-medal game two years ago in Poland but then without Pau Gasol lost to them last year in the Quarter-Finals at the World Championship, led from start to finish and got 26 points from Gasol.
"We played a great game for 40 minutes," Spain point guard Jose Calderon said.
"We were concentrated from the start. Everybody was ready to help each other.
"We all wanted to stop (Serbia point guard Milos) Teodosic and we did that.
"It was a great victory. We have to be proud of holding a great team like Serbia to 59 points, but we have to continue to work hard because we have more games to play."
Indiscipline caught up with Serbia in this one.
With 6:03 remaining in the second quarter and Serbia trailing 30-22, Italian referee Fabio Facchini slapped a bench technical on captain Nenad Krstic and Gasol made one of the two free-throws.
Keeping possession, Gasol followed with a jumper to stretch the lead to 35-22.
He and his brother, Marc Gasol, then reeled off the next six points for a commanding 39-22 lead.
Serbia closed the gap to 39-29 after a fast-break lay-up by Milenko Tepic, but with coach Dusan Ivkovic shouting at him as he ran past, Facchini called a technical on him and it was costly.
Juan Carlos Navarro sank two technical free-throws and Pau Gasol buried a jumper in the lane to make it 43-29.
Serbia whittled the deficit to 43-32 by half-time with a three-pointer by Dusko Savanovic and then made further inroads when play resumed in the third quarter as a Milan Macvan score made it 43-34.
Pau Gasol and Jose Calderon answered with back-to-back three-balls and Navarro scored from outside the paint before Calderon soared in for a lay-up and a 53-34 Spain stranglehold.
Spain went on to lead by 29 points in the frame and though Serbia went on a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter, Sergio Scariolo's team never looked in trouble.
"The Spain team was absolutely better than us tonight," Ivkovic said.
"They deserved this victory. Their desire was incredible.
"I told my players at half-time, ‘How is it possible that the Spanish team with NBA winners, European winners respect us more than we respect them?' The last two competitions we beat them twice. Mental toughness was on the Spanish team and I congratulate them."
Pau Gasol had 15 of his points in the first half.
Spain also got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Marc Gasol and 14 from Navarro.
Rudy Fernandez was much improved on his effort against Germany, especially on defense.
He took just four shots and scored two points but had two steals, five rebounds, three assists and a sensational block of a lay-up attempt by Macvan in the first quarter.
Calderon finished with eight points, three assists and five rebounds for Spain.
Serbia were led by Krstic's 12 points and Savanovic's 11.
Serbia knew beforehand they would still need to beat Turkey to advance but now one has to wonder about the team's confidence after consecutive defeats to France, Lithuania and Spain.