Pau Gasol has enjoyed a brilliant international career for Spain, and he added another chapter to his storied legacy on Thursday in the semifinals of EuroBasket. Gasol finished with 40 points and 11 rebounds as Spain outlasted France 80-75 in overtime to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
For Gasol, the opportunity to avoid playing in another high pressure international tournament next summer just to qualify for the Olympics was all the motivation he needed. This is likely to be the last Olympics of Gasol's proud career, and he was playing like someone who refused to let his country be locked out of Rio. Going against the younger, faster, longer Rudy Gobert, Gasol put on a clinic and turned back the clock for an incredible effort.
This dunk brought Spain within one late in the fourth:
And on the next possession, he went full Pau Abdul-Jabbar to give Spain the lead:
Nicolas Batum hit a corner three to force overtime for France, but Spain would take control in the extra session. Gasol was clearly winded in overtime, but he still scored two huge baskets to seal the victory for the Spaniards.
You know, I've been saying this tournament is dope. Lots of talented dudes playing with a ton of passion for high stakes. This semifinal matchup was as good as it gets. Spain now plays the winner of Lithuania vs. Serbia on Sunday at noon Chicago time.