News and opinions
25 July 2012
The Spanish national basketball team was unable to end their great pre-Olympic tour with a win against the US team, who proved why they are the favorites to win a gold medal at the London Olympics. Spain, who lost strength during the game, was overwhelmed by the skill and physical condition of their rivals, with outstanding players such as Carmelo Anthony (27 points) and Lebron James (24). Sergio Rodríguez did not play as he is still recovering from a thigh injury sustained during the game against Australia.
It was clear from the start that this was not going to be just an ordinary game. The best two national teams gave it their all. A three-pointer from Paul were the only points the US team scored in four minutes, thanks to the excellent Spanish defensive game. Gasol and Ibaka dominated the inside game on both baskets and their rival could not find a way to stop them. 0-3 then became 10-3 in minute 4. Chandler was sent to the bench after two personal fouls on Gasol, while Ibaka started by scoring 12 points without missing, including three slam dunks. Llull and Reyes’ appearance in the game coincided with the highest home score after Sada’s three-pointer (23-13, min. 8).
Running out of ideas in offense and totally overwhelmed in defense, Mike Krzyzewski brought Williams and Love on. The visitors became more aggressive and Anthony showed signs that today was going to be his day. An 8-0 run in their favor reduced the deficit after the first quarter (23-21). The next quarter began as the first had ended. The Americans returned to their star quintet (Paul, Bryant, James, Durant and Anthony) and this time they did not disappoint. They played their best basketball. Their defense snuffed out any attack and a spectacular Anthony in attack did the rest. The Knicks player scored from all positions and reached 23 points. James and Bryant finally came to the fore, and the three of them kept the scoreboard moving so the US team reached half-time with an 8-point advantage (40-48).Spain could not handle the Americans’ physical strength. They felt very uncomfortable with the visiting team’s hardened defensive game and tried to keep going, but it was not their best day in attack. In fact, their opponent had put their foot on the accelerator. Their physical strength enabled them to maintain a very high pace of play in both areas. Durant and James increased the lead by scoring 20 points in the third quarter after a Westbrook slam dunk (48-69, min. 26).
The Spanish side did not want to give up so soon. With Real Madrid players Llull and Rudy seizing the initiative, Scariolo’s players, with nerve and without rushing, achieved a partial score of 12-5 at the end of this quarter to keep the hopes up for the final charge (60-74, min. 30). However, the Americans were playing at a higher speed, feeling very comfortable with the advantage gained. They knew how to control the situation to perfection and the Spanish game did not cause them any concern. James began the show with his slam dunks and three-pointers, and the outcome of the game was finally decided (78-100, min. 40).