Italy defeat Spain in the European basketball championship
AP, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Italy beat two-time defending champion Spain 86-81 in overtime Monday in their last second-round match at the European basketball championship, while Croatia knocked out Greece with a 92-88 victory in double OT.

The loss meant little for Spain, which had qualified for the quarterfinals thanks to Croatia’s victory.

Spain dropped to fourth place in Group F and will play Serbia in the first quarterfinal on Wednesday. Also Wednesday, host Slovenia faces France, while on Thursday Croatia plays Ukraine and Lithuania goes against Italy.

Italy overcame a 15-point deficit and 32 points and 10 rebounds from Marc Gasol to earn its win, with Luigi Datome scoring with a layup at the buzzer in regulation to force overtime. Datome also had some key plays in overtime and Alessandro Gentile made four straight free throws to secure Italy’s victory. Gentile finished with 25 points.

“We beat probably the best team in the tournament,” said Italy guard Pietro Aradori, who had 17 points.

Since winning the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, Italy has not been able to reach the quarterfinals in any major competition, and failed to qualify for the last two Olympics and one world championship. It missed the 2009 Europeans as well and finished 17th two years ago.

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