The men’s basketball team said goodbye to the Tokyo Games in Pau Gasol’s last game with the national team at the age of 41, also the last of his brother Marc. Kevin Durant and the talent of the United States team dictated the sentence (81-95) that was guessed since the draw led to the match for the quarterfinals. The United States was better, despite some phases of good play by the Spanish team and the extraordinary offensive game by Ricky Rubio, who scored 38 points. It was not enough to defeat a rival very entrenched in the effectiveness of Kevin Durant and the strokes of Lillard and Tatum.
Spain is out of the Games. He will not be able to fight for a medal that he carried around his neck in the last three editions, silver in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and bronze in Rio 2016, always defeated by the Americans, as in the quarterfinals of Athens 2004 and again now in Tokyo Definitely, the United States has been the frontier of the best team in the history of Spanish basketball.
The game was overloaded with content. What is already a classic of the Games and basketball arrived at the fateful crossroads of the quarterfinals, with the Americans already more than warned by their defeats in the preparation and in their debut against France. And to top it off, a day that could be historic.
The American team acted in spades. Brushstrokes of talent. A little Kevin Durant here, a little Lillard there. But at the same time bulky errors were observed. Quick hands for the robbery, but some collective sleeper that as soon as he left a red carpet for Ricky Rubio as he lost defensive rebounds. Willy Hernangómez and Claver took advantage of Adebayo and Draymond Green’s disorientation. The Spanish inside game complemented the offense led by their bases, Ricky first and Sergio Rodríguez later. The score fluctuated from 10-17 to 39-29. The second unit, with Willy, Sergio Rodríguez and Llull, oxygenated the Spanish team, far superior in the rebound.
But the United States demonstrated its extraordinary ability to take a bite out of the scoreboard, or two. With the first they restored equality at halftime and with the second, with four triples in four minutes, three from Kevin Durant and one from Booker, they opened the gap on the scoreboard (47-58). Neither Claver nor Abrines could with Kevin Durant nor the Spanish defense was able to adjust to avoid open shots. LaVine was added to the shooter festival. The Spanish attack, by contrast, dried up, barely fueled by Ricky Rubio. The partial was overwhelming. The 6-22 opened the biggest gap on the scoreboard, 49-65. But Spain reacted almost as effectively as the Americans had done at the end of the second quarter. Scariolo put Ricky and Sergio Rodríguez on the court at the same time. Kevin Durant accused the wear and tear and went to the bench for a while. Spain reduced the disadvantage again to appear in the last act with 63-69 on the scoreboard.
The return of Kevin Durant put the American offensive machine back on track. There wasn’t much else from 65-81 with seven minutes to go. Spain said goodbye to the Games and Pau Gasol said goodbye to his extraordinary career, at least in the national team, at the Saitama Super Arena, the same setting where they won the 2006 World Cup.
Spain, 81; United States, 95
Spain: Ricky Rubio (38), Rudy Fernández (0), Abalde (0), Claver (8), Marc Gasol (0) -starting team-; Pau Gasol (0), Sergio Rodríguez (16), Willy Hernangómez (10), Garuba (3), Abrines (0 and Llull (6).
United States: Lillard (11), Holiday (12), Booker (9), Kevin Durant (29), Adebayo (5) -starting team-; LaVine (10), Middleton (2), Grant (0), Tatum (13) and Draymond Green (4).
Partial: 21-19, 22-24, 20-26 and 18-26.
Referees: Locatelli (), Rosso and Weiland.
Saitama Super Arena.
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