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Spain marches into men's basketball final
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Spain on Friday advanced into Olympic men's basketball final after battling past Lithuania 91-86 in a very physical game.

The three of Simas Jasaitis and Sarunas Jasikevicius of Lithuania and Pau Gasol of Spain scored game-high 19 points but Jasaitis claimed eight rebounds, the highest among all scorers.

"I do not think I realize how important it is, what we just achieved," said Spanish guard Raul Lopez. "We are in the Olympic gold medal final. There are a lot of emotions right now."

"I am very happy we won, even though we had some bad moments," he added.

Spain jumped out to a quick 9-4 lead and held off Lithuania's offence to lead the first quarter 21-19.

The Lithuanians rallied to fight back in the second quarter and pulled away at 31-30 after Ksistof Lavrinovic hit a three-pointer, eking out two points by the half-time, 42-40.

Both teams played tough defence in the third quarter but the Lithuanians still managed to hit three three-pointers to escape with an advantage of four points by the end of the quarter, 66-62.

After tying the game 71-71, Rudy Fernandez of Spain added two points on fast break to lead 73-71. The Spaniards trailed briefly after Ksistof Lavrinovic of Lithuania hit from behind the arc, 74-73, but never allowed their lead to change till the end of the fourth quarter.

"I am living a dream," said Spanish forward Felipe Reyes. "At the end of the game, we were all jumping (and) kissing each other. I think tonight we are going to celebrate."

"I missed my shots," said Simas Jasaitis of Lithuania. "It's Basketball. It was the small details. We missed easy shots."

Lithuania will play against the loser of the semi-final between the United States and Argentina for the Games bronze on Sunday while Spain will play for gold.

(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2008)

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