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29/08/2006Game Report, Spain vs Lithuania, 89-67, QUARTER FINALS

SAITAMA (FIBA World Championship) - Spain destroyed Lithuania to reach the semi-finals of the FIBA World Championship for the first time in 24 years.

The Spaniards, one of the most talented sides in international basketball, forced the Baltic giants into 15 first-half turnovers and Juan Carlos Carlos Navarro and Pau Gasol each poured in 15 points before the break as they rolled to an 89-67 victory.

Gasol finished with a game-high 25 points with nine rebounds, while Navarro scored 22 as Spain avenged their EuroBasket 2003 gold-medal game defeat to Lithuania in grand style.

"The way we started the game, running and setting the tone from the beginning, that was the key," Gasol said. "We just kept running and being aggressive. We have to be really happy right now."

Now Spain will take on Argentina or Turkey, with those two sides meeting later on Tuesday.

The winner of that game will not like what it sees on the video tape of Spain's win because they gave Lithuania a basketball lesson.

Spain possess speed, power, three-point shooting and defense.

"It's a tough game either way," Gasol said. "We'll see how it goes. Argentina is a really tough team with a lot of experience, and they're the Olympic champions of course.

"And Turkey can really hurt you in a lot of ways."

The signs were ominous for Lithuania from the opening tip.

Navarro buried a three-pointer and after Darius Songaila committed the first of 28 Lithuania turnovers for the contest, Spain captain Carlos Jimenez nailed a three.

Linas Kleiza replied with shot from the arc, but Gasol's jumper in the lane followed by Navarro's second three-pointer took the lead to 11-3.

A run which gave Pepu Hernandez's team the lead for good started with Spain holding a 17-11 advantage.

Gasol was fouled by Kleiza and made two at the line and Spain surged ahead, with Rudy Fernandez's sensational reverse dunk after an alley-oop pass from Sergio Rodriguez rocking the rim and the entire Saitama Super Arena for a 28-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Three more Lithuania turnovers which led to another Fernandez dunk and a lay-up by Alex Mumbru took the lead to 32-11 with 8:40 to go in the first half.

Lithuania tried to claw their way back and closed to 32-21 three minutes later, but Gasol calmed Spanish nerves, making a pair of free throws and then adding a dunk to restore momentum for his side.

Gasol's tap-in at the half-time buzzer gave Spain a 47-30 lead, and they put the result beyond doubt by going on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter for an unassailable 57-30 lead.

Turnovers killed Lithuania, with one at the start of the second half by Mantas Kalnietis continuing where they had left off after the second period.

Gasol played 28 minutes and was eight of 16 from the floor. He was magnficent on defense as well, blocking three shots and coming up with one of Spain's 17 steals.

Jose Manuel Calderon led the defense with four steals .

Spain also shot well at the line, making 22 of 28 on the game while Lithuania took just nine and made three.

"We made a lot of childish mistakes," Kleiza said. "As young as we are, we still had chances to win this game but we gave them away."

By Cindy Garcia-Bennett