News and opinions
04 August 2012
Silvia Cófreces / Translation by Tridiom.com
The Spanish basketball team lost to Russia by 77-74 in a game in which they vied for first position in group B, essential in order to rule out facing the US before possibly making it to the final. This match was Spain's first trial by fire. They needed to step up their game in these Olympics and prove that they are ready to compete for the medals against a rival such as Kirilenko's team. Despite the loss, the Real Madrid players were once again key to Spain's play. Rudy scored ten points, Sergio Rodríguez eight, Llull six and Reyes four.
The match against Russia demanded more from Spain than they had demonstrated against China, Australia and Great Britain and Scariolo's team went out to win. They left Russia in their wake for the first four minutes as they shot up the scoreboard (0-10) thanks to the Gasols' inside play. The first quarter finished 11-28 for Spain, who managed to maintain their advantage until half-time with fast, explosive play by Sergio Rodríguez and Rudy Fernández. Both have been performing very well this tournament.
However, just when it seemed that the game was in the bag, Russia got on form and Spain lost focus again. Spain no longer dominated the rebounds, their inside play lost dynamism and their defence intensity. Russia reduced the gap to three points (42-45), then came up equal (47-47) and finished the third quarter ahead of Spain with 56-53 on the scoreboard. It was a masterly strike that finally revealed just how lethal Russia can be in its determination to win medals.
The final quarter was a constant back and forth in which Scariolo's team was always behind, although they managed to get five points ahead (66-71) with three minutes to go thanks to a shot from Sergio Rodríguez. But with only a minute left on the clock, Spain lost the lead because of a three-pointer from Khryapa (73-73) and wasn't able to secure the match in the following play. Russia again showed their superiority, coming away with victory despite having two of their best weapons out of commission. In fact, they were unsuccessful in most of their three-pointer attempts (8/21) and Kirilenko, who went on with an average of 23,3 points (second highest scorer in London), went away with only eight more.