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Spain one win from Olympic qualification

Germany Basketball Europeans

Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki, left, Spain’s Nikola Mirotic, center and Germany’s Karsten Tadda, right, challenge for the ball during the EuroBasket European Basketball Championships group B match between Germany and Spain in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt)


Spain couldn’t even exhale when the final buzzer sounded.

The silver medalists had to wait until Giannis Antetokounmpo’s halfcourt heave sailed through the air and finally missed.

Spain held off Greece, 73-71, in a EuroBasket quarterfinal thriller Tuesday.

Spain will face the winner of France-Latvia – playing this afternoon – in the EuroBasket semifinals Thursday with an Olympic berth on the line.

Expect Spain to again lean on Pau Gasol (27 points and nine rebounds against Greece) and Nikola Mirotic (18 points). They Spaniards looked good Tuesday.

Then again, so did Greece. As long as it wins one of its next two games, the first against the France-Latvia loser Thursday, Greece will make next summer’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. I expect Greece to reach that 18-team field – and make a run in it.

Antetokounmpo (12 points and 17 rebounds) showed his versatility working inside, and he could be Greece’s clear top player by then.

Serbia-Czech Republic and Italy-Lithuania meet tomorrow in the other side of the bracket, which will also produce one Olympic bid.