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Don’t Sleep on Spain as Scariest Elimination-Round Threat to Team USA Basketball

Saturday afternoon, Spain reasserted itself as a award contender with a 50-point thrashing of formerly dominant Lithuania. Two days later, it cemented a lapse to value with a 92-73 win over Argentina in a diversion that never felt close.

Now, it moves on to a rejecting stage:

Olympic Basketball Quarterfinals

Group A Team
Group B Team
Wednesday, Aug 17
Wednesday, Aug 17
Wednesday, Aug 17
Wednesday, Aug 17
United States


This is how a contest joint looks, per Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Golliver:

Against Argentina, Spain did a best Usain Bolt sense early in a proceedings—letting a antithesis get out of a blocks with a nifty 8-0 run before sprinting past and withdrawal a foe in a dust. By a time a buzzer rang to finish a initial quarter, it had already warranted a 10-point advantage, whic it never relinquished.

This was not a Spain from a commencement of a organisation stage.

“Honestly, we don’t like a conditions for sure,” Rudy Fernandez pronounced Tuesday, according to a Associated Press (via a New York Times), after he and his teammates found themselves in an 0-2 hole. “We mislaid a initial dual games, yet we remember in London we mislaid dual games, too.

“I trust in my teammates. … We are really good players. We know a conditions we are in. Honestly, we have a chance. We have a possibility to win a subsequent 3 games.”

That’s accurately what they did, and a unsatisfactory commencement opposite Croatia and Brazil is zero some-more than a apart memory. So too is a muted opening opposite Nigeria that, while it resulted in victory, did zero to impregnate a general heavyweights with any emergence of sorely indispensable confidence.

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Rubio (two points, 5 assists) isn’t rolling, and his shot has forlorn him in Rio. But a rest of a group is abounding around him, quite when Pau Gasol and Rudy Fernandez are clicking. The once absent certainty is now plentiful.

That was a box Monday, and a aforementioned duo’s efforts were aided by a dizzying array of contributions from scarcely any member of a Spanish roster. Nikola Mirotic (10 points, 6 rebounds) and Sergio Llull (10 points, 4 assists) were a usually other players to strike double figures, yet underwhelming play was tough to find—five turnovers from Sergio Rodriguez, Rubio’s bad sharpened and Juan Carlos Navarro’s ejection for flopping might be a usually examples.

But Gasol and Fernandez were a stars.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The former was a savage when authorised to play his code of stationary invulnerability in a rim-protecting purpose and sparked Spain’s offense with his flitting and ability to widen a floor. His line of 19 points, 13 rebounds, dual assists and dual blocks sounds terrific, yet it still sells his impact short.

Meanwhile, a latter couldn’t miss, recording 23 points on usually 10 shots from a field.

Behind those two, Spain altered a narrative. Instead of wondering either this group can survive, we’re extraordinary about how high it can rise. That, above all else, is a biggest advantage of wiping a building with Lithuania and afterwards regulating Argentina to infer a momentum-altering outcome was no fluke.

Gasol and Co. will retard off opposite France in a quarterfinals, and that seems like a winnable matchup. The French have endured struggles of their own, posting an matching 3-2 record in Group A after a slight detriment to Team USA and an unsightly blowout during a hands of Australia to open a Olympics.

As Jon Krawcyznski of a Associated Press noted, Spain looks a bit improved these days:

Gasol is personification illusory two-way basketball, and his passes have insincere pin-point correctness regardless of a conditions he’s in. Whether he’s operative out of a post, backing adult on a fringe or assisting in transition, he knows accurately where any teammate will be during all times.

Supporting a vast man, Spain’s shooters are clicking, and a invulnerability is sealed into place. It’s finally imitative a award contender it was insincere to be before a contest got underway, and it’ll have a possibility to concrete that standing when it takes a justice opposite France.

And with Team USA struggling to find a tip gear, anything could occur if a concrete takes reason and they accommodate in a semifinals.

Brazil Wins yet Tourney Run Ends

Eric Gay/Associated Press

At 1-3 in Group B play, Brazil indispensable a feat opposite Nigeria to keep alive a hopes of advancing out of a rough round. They got it, yet their dreams of fortifying their territory in a rejecting rounds came crashing to an finish after in a dusk when Argentina degraded Lithuania.

Led by Nene’s 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, Brazil quasi-clobbered Nigeria, 86-69. Indeed, a measure suggests a full-on blowout, yet this was a seven-point event entering a fourth quarter—in vast partial given Ben Uzoh (15 points, dual assists) fended off implosion on his own.

Seriously, he had people talking, per CBS Sports’ Josh Herbert:

Brazil used a span of descent explosions to behind Nigeria into a corner. The hosts pummeled their competition 27-15 in a second quarter, afterwards finished a final support on a 25-12 run.

Marcelo Huertas’ playmaking (11 assists) remained a pivotal partial of a descent success. He threw off Nigeria with a solid sip of pick-and-rolls and drive-and-kicks. On mixed occasions, his leap invasion triggered a array of two- and three-pass sets, wherein Brazil used additional transformation to send defenders into a revolution frenzy.

Vitor Benite, a primary customer of Brazil’s round movement, pitched in 15 points. Alex Garcia combined 13. But this diversion was really many about Nene.

He has struggled via a contest to emanate adequate space off a block, and his jumper has looked out of whack. Against Nigeria, he looked 5 years younger, hotfooting his approach toward a basket off screens, interlude on a time off a leap and stretching a building ever so somewhat with 3 done jumpers outward a paint.

For this win to meant anything, though, Brazil indispensable help, as USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt outlined:

They didn’t get that assistance from an Argentine patrol that refused to addition a quip efforts with additional mins from Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni and opted instead to rest a veterans for a rejecting stage.

But during slightest a horde republic can be unapproachable of responding when it had a behind opposite a self-evident wall.

Dario Saric Steals a Show


You’ll have to pardon Philadelphia 76ers fans right now. They’ve had such meagre opportunities to feel uncontrollable certainty in new years, and Dario Saric’s time in Rio is surpassing even a many confident expectations.

The incoming rookie did get off to a delayed start opposite Spain, knocking down usually one of his 7 shots from a field. But given then, he’s been an impact actor for Croatia, assisting it bind Group B’s No. 1 mark with another outburst in a 90-81 feat over Lithuania:

Dario Saric’s Olympic Game Log

5 (1-of-7)
19 (7-of-16)
15 (5-of-11)
7 (2-of-5)
18 (7-of-12)
12.8 (4.4-of-10.2)


Even during that hapless tour opposite Spain, he saved a diversion with a last-second retard opposite Gasol, rotating over from a diseased side to safeguard an Olympic-opening upset.

“He looks prepared to make an evident impact,” Jonathan Tjarks wrote for The Ringer. “He stuffs a stat piece and plays with a mixed of savvy and toughness surprising for a 22-year-old.”

Sure, his jumper stays a small inconsistent. He can also get in some difficulty when he tries to make tough plays in space. But a flaws are easy to live with right now; he’s doing all else well—even Eurostepping his approach by mixed defenders in transition before he finishes plays around a hoop.

Saric has shown he can emanate his possess looks and play off a ball. He’s valid able of distributing a stone to open teammates even while seeking his possess shots. His creativity has been astounding, as has a elementary fact that he carries himself like a star. Few players ooze certainty like he does when a few shots fall.

Of course, we have to give a few other shoutouts after this Group B matchup.

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Bojan Bogdanovic (22 points) and Krunoslav Simon (19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) were illusory for a Croatians, while Mantas Kalnietis continued to perform like one of a best players in a field. After bursting for 26 points and 11 assists, a Lithuanian indicate ensure is averaging 19.2 points (No. 5 in a field) and 8 dimes (No. 2) per game.

But this was about Saric’s solid value in so many facets of a diversion and a legitimate fad he’s stirring in fans of his beleaguered franchise. Cue Bleacher Report’s Alec Nathan:

Spain-Argentina and Croatia-Lithuania sections supposing by Adam Fromal.


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