Spain will take on Australia in the first semi-final of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Beijing on Friday.
Spain have been unbeaten so far in their run to the semi-finals. They opened their campaign with a 101-62 win over Tunisia, and that momentum has continued ever since. Their closest margin of victory came in the second round against Italy. Spain won 67-60 in that encounter to brush off a gritty Italian side. All but two of their victories have come by a margin of more than 10 points.
They faced Poland in the quarter-final and recorded a 90-78 win to reach the next stage. It was a clinical performance from the Spaniards as they built the lead in the first quarter and never wavered. Point guard Ricky Rubio was the star performer as he had 19 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds in the game. Rubio has had a stellar tournament, and he has carried the offensive burden well for his side. Scoring is not his strongest attribute, but he has orchestrated the offence with his passing.
Rubio leads the side with 15.3 points per game. Marc Gasol and Juancho Hernangomez are the other players who are averaging more than 10 points per game. Hernangomez and Victor Claver lead in the rebounding department for Spain. They have great experience in their squad, which should be valuable as they push for the title. Ranked second in the world, they are now the best team left in the tournament after the USA were knocked out in the quarter-finals.
Australia have also won all their games, but they have had some close shaves. For instance, they pulled out a narrow 100-98 win over France in the second round. Their games have been high-scoring in general. Australia have not failed to cross the 80-point barrier in any of their games. A big reason for that has been the form of Patty Mills. The San Antonio Spur has carried the offensive burden for Australia. Mills is averaging 22.2 points per game so far in China.
Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles are the teammates who are into double digits along with Mills. Matthew Dellavedova leads the assist charts for them with 6.0 per game. Australia have a seasoned side with the likes of Ingles and Bogut providing valuable experience.
They faced the Czech Republic in the quarter-final. A strong run in the third quarter propelled them to an 82-70 win. Mills starred again with 24 points and 6 assists. Australia outscored the Czech 30-18 in the third quarter. These two sides have met twice before in this tournament, and Spain have won on both those occasions.
Spain vs Australia Prediction
However, Australia have a great chance to change that script. They go into the tie as slight favorites to progress to the final. The game will be close, and the point differential will be less than 5 points. Both teams should score more than 80 points, and it will be an entertaining semi-final.