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Spain beats Croatia to earn Eurobasket bronze medal

Consolation for the deposed champion after overtime defeat by France in semifinals

Spanish players Marc Gasol (l) and José Manuel Calderón embrace after the third-place playoff against Croatia.
Spanish players Marc Gasol (l) and José Manuel Calderón embrace after the third-place playoff against Croatia. EFE

Spain prolonged its medal-winning run at basketball tournaments Sunday with a convincing 92-66 victory over Croatia in the third-place playoff game in the 2013 European Championship in Slovenia.

The bronze medal was the Spanish men’s basketball team’s 15th overall podium finish and the eighth in the course of the last 11 major international tournaments (World and European Championships and the Olympic Games).

Spain, the reigning champion, raced into a 14-4 lead in the opening quarter led by José Manuel Calderón’s counterattacks. The Dallas Mavericks point guard is the only player in the current side that also featured in the bronze medal playoff match in 2005 in Serbia. On that occasion it was France — which eliminated Spain from this year’s tournament in Friday’s semifinal after overtime — that took third place with a thumping 98-68 victory.

“I regret that game and that this generation of players missed out on another medal,” said Calderón before Sunday’s match. Good work by Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 19 first-half points, gave Croatia a 27-28 lead on 16 minutes but Spain opened up an 11-point gap just before the interval.

Marc Gasol and Víctor Claver anchored Spain’s ascendancy and Sergio Llull provided the attacking verve as Spain’s advantage increased to 14 on the half-hour mark, from where the 2009 and 2011 winners were in a comfort zone that Croatia could not unsettle.

France plays Lithuania in Sunday night’s final.