U.S. and Spain stay on course for World Cup showdown

Sat Sep 6, 2014 6:15pm EDT
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MADRID (Reuters) - Holders the United States and hosts Spain remained on course to reach the basketball World Cup final after powering into the last eight where they were joined by France and Slovenia on Saturday.

The U.S. beat Mexico 86-63 in Barcelona to book a quarter-final meeting with Slovenia who overcame the Dominican Republic 71-61.

Spain breezed past Senegal 89-56 in Madrid to set up a clash with the French who edged out Croatia 69-64.

The remaining four last-16 games will be played on Sunday, with the Brazil v Argentina and Greece v Serbia regional derbies offering more thrills in the fiercely competitive tournament.

Fast-flowing basketball from the preliminary group stage made way for physical battles in the first knockout round, with the U.S. scoring their lowest tally of the campaign and winning by their lowest margin.

The champions were still too strong for a battling Mexican side and contained them to just 38 points in the opening three quarters before taking their foot off the gas in the final period.

“Overall, I was pleased because it’s our sixth game in eight days,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after guard Stephen Curry led the charge with 20 points.

“I am not unhappy with our team really, I wish they knew each other better but you can’t force that maturing process."

Spain too were in control from start to finish against surprise packages Senegal as versatile center Pau Gasol capped another effervescent performance with 17 points and five rebounds against the west Africans.   Continued...