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France Beats Spain In Madrid

Talk about a national wet blanket - Spain was supposed to win this tournament going away, or at the worst, lose in the Finals.

Spain reacts after the stunning loss to France in the FIBA World Cup.
Spain reacts after the stunning loss to France in the FIBA World Cup.
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Not many people gave France a shot against Spain. Like the U.S., Spain was expected to roll right through to the finals. Behind a very imposing frontline of Marc and Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka, all accomplished NBA veterans - we might have called that front line the Spanish Armada - and with solid guards, not to mention playing at home, the Spaniards were seen by many as the favorites.

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Nobody told the French. And precious few bothered to note that the French were the reigning European champs, that even without Tony Parker, there are several fine NBA players on the roster, or that they are very good defensively.

France almost shut down three point shooting, holding Spain to 2-22 (09.1%) and just 32.3% overall.

More impressively, France absolutely destroyed Spain on the boards, outrebounding the Spaniards 49-29 and 16-9.

Keep in mind that Spain missed 42 shots and only got nine second attempts. Even with that impressive front line.

It's not a fluke. Spain was utterly dominated by France and as a result, the field is almost entirely reordered. France has to be considered a favorite to make the finals now.

It's good news for the remaining teams as well. It's bound to be inspiration for Lithuania and Serbia. And the U.S. now faces Lithuania on Thursday with their star point guard out. If the Americans win and play France in the finals, it'll be France without Parker, so two teams missing their floor leaders in a row.

For Spain, it's bound to be a time of soul searching. Ever since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where the Dream Team fascinated Spanish fans and players, Spain has been building. It's now a legitimate basketball power and dreamed of being the best.

Basketball took deep roots in Spain and this would have been a crowning moment. Sadly, for some of the best players and fans in the world, it won't happen.

Now, if Serbia is defeated the opportunity falls to France. Let's see what they make of it.