The United States has ended Spain’s dream of beating the Americans for the first time in the Olympic Games and reaching the semi-finals in Tokyo. The National Team has squeezed all its tactical and physical possibilities but has run into the best USA version in this tournament.
The first 10 minutes have been what is said to be scoring, largely dominated by the United States despite the fact that Durant, with Claver stuck, it took him five minutes to score his first two points. When he woke up, with 7 consecutive points, the scoreboard reached the maximum difference so far (10-17, minute 7). But the final stretch of the first quarter has been totally Spanish, regaining the rhythm and 9 points of Ricky and 4 of Llull. A basket of Sergio half unbalanced after kickoff has put Spain ahead for the first time (21-19) 3 seconds from the end of the first quarter. Patience, balls recovered and defense especially uncomfortable for the Americans have been the keys. The only negative data, the two fouls already accumulated by Rudy.
That have given way to a second quarter in which at times Spain has touched perfection. It has been opened by a triple Lavine who returned the score to USA (21-22) but responded immediately Sergio Rodriguez with another 3-point basket (24-22). Another triple of Chacho (27-26, minute 13) has given way to an authentic recital with Willy Hernangómez in the epicenter: two offensive rebounds translated into 4 points and 3 blocks practically in a row have broken the schemes of the United States, and precisely with another basket of Willy Spain has gone to +10 (39-29, after a 9-0 run) after having subtracted a point from Sergio’s triple reviewed by the referees. But at the same time that Rudy’s third foul has come one of the dreaded USA scoring streaks, led by Durant, and a final basket by Booker, after which Llull has not hit a triple forced by the clock, has left the game in tables at halftime (43-43). Everything to play, 20 minutes ahead to continue fighting for the semifinal.
And a plug of Ricky to Adebayo In one of the first actions of the third quarter, he made it clear that they were going to be life or death. Durant understood this, relentless from the 3-point line, also taking advantage of three trays missed by Spain (45-53, minute 23, after a triple from Booker) and the jam of the Spanish attack, with a couple of inaccuracies, to put a maximum of 14 points of difference (49-63, minute 25). A 6-22 run with 13 points from Durant. The reaction, from the hand of Ricky Rubio –Which has closed the quarter with 27 points already- and a quintet on the track promoting the outside line, has achieved the objective. Little by little the US advantage has been lowered, and a three-point shot from Chacho has left it at only 6 (63-69) at the end of the quarter and at 4 after the first basket of the last, an effort of Garuba (65-69). By then, however, the United States had already been warned, and without releasing defensive tension and moving the ball quickly in attack, they have taken advantage of all their free shots. A triple by Tatum has unbalanced again (66-77, minute 33). And Spain has not been able to go past -8 (75-83), with the Americans exploiting their physical power, scratching balls and blocking the collective attack, only not being able to stop Ricky, who ended up shooting up to 38 points.
Insufficient to dream of the semifinal. The balance of the last 10 minutes has been of American dominance, with the forces of Spain already in short supply as the clock ticked. And the score against has been completely irrecoverable.