Power forward Luis Scola scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Argentina breezed past France 80-66 to book their place in Sunday’s basketball World Cup final against Spain.
France blew the tournament wide open by beating favourites and reigning champions the US in the quarter-finals, but they never got going as star centre Rudy Gobert struggled and shots from beyond the arc would not drop for them.
Frank Ntilikina top-scored for the French with 16 points and Louis Labeyrie added eight off the bench, but all too often they left open lanes to the basket for the aggressive Argentinian attack to exploit.
Scola made the most of their defensive lapses, scoring several easy lay-ups, hitting three of four three-pointers and making nine of 10 free throws in a dominant offensive performance to lead his team to their first final appearance since 2002.
It’s also the first gold-medal game for Argentina since the 2004 Olympics.
Argentina – a team with no active NBA players on their roster – will be bidding for their second title, after winning the inaugural world championship in 1950.