HIROSHIMA (FIBA World Championship
) - Pau Gasol scored 26 points and 10 rebounds as Spain led wire-to-wire in a 101-57 thrashing of Panama for their second straight victory at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
Gasol and company were never threatened in the Group B encounter which leaves them with a perfect 2-0 record going into their much-anticipated showdown Monday with Germany.
Pepu Hernandez was able to get quality playing time for his bench, which saw Rudy Fernandez score 21 points and Benni Rodriguez add 15. Besides Gasol, Spain's starters only scored 28 points, with Jorge Garbajosa tops with 10 points.
Nobody for Panama scored in double digits as Ruben Douglas, Jamie Lloreda and Dionisio Gomez all had nine points.
Spain improved to 4-0 against Panama in international competition with victories at the 1968 Olympic Games and the 1982 and 1986 FIBA World Championships.
Gasol and Garbajosa made sure Spain started strong, combining for the first nine points in opening a 12-2 lead. Hernandez's squad pushed the advantage to 23-11 after one period.
The Iberians on cruise control were too much for the Central Americans. And Gasol and Garbajosa again put their stamp on the game in the closing moments of the first half,
combining for the final eight points as Gasol found Garbajosa twice with behind-the-back passes in the paint.
Even with Hernandez resting his starters, Panama couldn't close the floodgates and Spain used a 13-0 run to open 70-38 lead with 30 seconds left in the third.
Panama scored the final four points of the period to close within 70-42 going into the final 10 minutes.
But Spain remained on the throttle and never let up, as Hernandez even brought in Gasol and Garbajosa in the fourth quarter.
While Spain face Germany on Monday, Panama face hosts Japan in match they must win if they want to stay alive for the knock-out stage. By DAVID HEIN
Exclusively for FIBA