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Gasol leads Spain past Lithuania 84-70

WORLD champion Spain eased past Lithuania 84-70 yesterday and Turkey hung on to beat Serbia 69-64 in overtime and stay unbeaten at the European basketball championship.

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol led Spain with 19 points and eight rebounds, while guard Juan Carlos Navarro chipped in with 13 points to give the Spaniards their first win in Group F and move them a step closer to the quarterfinals.

Trailing 24-15 at the start of the second quarter, Spain guard Rudy Fernandez hit a 3-pointer to spark a 25-3 run over the next 7 minutes that put Spain ahead 40-27.

The world champions continued to get out on the fast break, and led by as much as 24 in the fourth quarter before pulling most of their starters.

"We played with a very good rhythm today," said Gasol, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. "We raised our level of intensity and were able to run and play our game. That's more the game that we've been so successful with."

Spain has struggled to match the level of play it produced in winning the silver medal at last year's Beijing Olympics and the world title in 2006. The team lost its opening game to Serbia, and then fell to Turkey in the first game of the second round.

"I think it was an excellent game from our team," Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. "We are just one step closer to where we want to get. It's a very important step."

Lithuania has lost its first two second-round games and is assured of missing out on the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001.

Turkey kept its perfect record at the tournament and clinched a quarterfinal spot with a gritty overtime win against Serbia.

Forward Hedo Turkoglu tipped in a rebound at the buzzer that appeared to give Turkey the win in regulation, but an official review showed the shot was after time had expired.

The Turks then held Serbia scoreless in a sloppy overtime to claim the top spot in Group F.

"I really don't know how we won this game," Turkoglu said. "We led the game the whole night, but we made stupid mistakes that almost cost us the game. But in the end we still had good defense."

Forward Ersan Ilyasova led Turkey with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Also in Group F, Slovenia beat Poland 76-60 behind 20 points and 9 boards from center Erazem Lorbek.

Slovenia held Poland to one point over the first seven minutes of the third quarter to open a 16-point lead that the Poles could never close.

"In the second half, we had a bad shooting percentage and we made many turnovers, and against a quality team like Slovenia they make you pay for your mistakes," Poland coach Muli Katzurin said.

The top four teams in Group E and Group F advance to the quarterfinals.


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