Olympics: Spain see off Serbia to reach women's basketball final
The Spaniards assured themselves of a maiden medal by booking their spot in Saturday's title showdown with a 68-54 semi-final victory in Rio.
Spain secured a first-ever Olympic women's basketball medal on Thursday, defeating European champions Serbia 68-54 in a Rio semi-final game with 14 points each from Alba Torrens and Astou Ndour.
The Spaniards will take home no worse than a silver medal and will play for gold on Saturday against the winner of a later last-four clash between five-time defending champion United States and 2012 Olympic runners-up France.
"Being in the Olympics is amazing and to win a medal, it's a dream," said Torrens, the top Olympic scorer among semi-finalists.
"We worked really hard to get to this moment. Today, it paid off."
Despite the defeat, Serbia can capture their first women's hoops medal by defeating the US-France loser in Saturday's bronze medal match-up.
"We've got to put this game out of our minds," US-born Serbian forward Danielle Page said.
"We still have a chance to do something special and make history for Serbia. We need to focus on the opportunity we have rather than the opportunity we lost."
The Americans, last beaten at the Olympics in a 1992 semi-final, are 87-1 from 1996 in Olympic and World Championship games and on a 47-game Olympic win streak entering the rematch of 2012's gold-medal game.
Laura Nicholls added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Spain while Sasa Cado and Sonja Petrovic each scored 12 points to lead Serbia.
Spain, runner-up to the US in the 2014 World Championships and third in last year's European tournament, improved to 6-1 in Rio, having lost only to the Americans.
"We didn't talk about medals before we came," Torrens said.
"We knew we would have to fight every game the difficult way. We fought. We worked. At the end, we got what we wanted."
Spanish captain Laia Palau scored five points in a 13-3 run to close the first quarter as Spain took a 20-9 lead, but Serbia opened the second quarter with an 11-2 surge, seven points from Cado helping trim the deficit to 22-20.
Spain led 33-28 at half-time and began the third quarter with a 13-2 sequence for a 46-30 advantage.
"We made mistakes, missed some shots, but no one relaxed on defence or rebounding and that was the key to victory," Torrens said.
Silvia Domínguez's five points closed the key run that put the Spaniards comfortably ahead to the end.