Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio kept Spain on track at the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday in a 90-78 victory against Poland.
Rubio finished with 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds and nailed a pair of critical 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to lift Spain to the semifinals. It will play the winner of the Australia-Czech Republic game, which will take place on Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET.
Charlotte Hornets big man Willy Hernangómez scored 18 points and former Portland Trail Blazers swingman Rudy Fernandez added 16 as Spain (6-0) prevailed after suffering quarterfinal round losses in its last two World Cups — by France in 2014, and by Serbia in 2010 when the tournament was still called the world championship.
A.J. Slaughter scored 19 points and Adam Waczynski finished with 15 for Poland (4-2), which is assured of finishing no worse than eighth at its first appearance at the World Cup since 1967.
Poland got within 76-72 on a layup by Waczynski with 5:42 remaining, but Spain pulled away over the next three minutes. Hernangómez’s three-point play got Spain’s run started, Rubio then made his 3s about 90 seconds apart and Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol found Victor Claver for a dunk with 2:41 left that made it 87-72.
The last time Spain made the semifinals was 2006 — when it went on to win the tournament.
Spain is used to grinding out wins by now in China — after a tournament-opening victory over Tunisia by 39, Spain has beaten Puerto Rico by 10, Iran by eight, Italy by seven, Serbia by 12 and now Poland by 10. Ball handling paved the way for Spain in its victory Tuesday as it was credited for 28 assists on 32 field goals.
Gasol had 10 points and seven assists, and Denver Nuggets big man Juancho Hernangomez scored 14 for Spain.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.