• Brazil dug themselves a big hole against Lithuania in their first game, trailing by 30 in the third quarter before embarking on a furious comeback that came up just short. Spain was in command of their opener against Croatia but slowly gave back their lead until they trailed by two in the final seconds and had their final attempt swatted into the ether by Dario Saric.

    Today was the same script with a twist for both, as Brazil still required a late-game push to get the job done but converted thanks to a putback. Spain were the ones to defend the crucial play this time but failed again, allowing Marquinhos to slip into the paint and put a major dent into Spain’s medal hopes.

    The home fans were happy and Argentina’s old guys outlasted Croatia’s youth as a competitive Group B owned Day 4 in Rio. Dive on in.

    Today’s Results

    Men’s

    Brazil 66 vs. Spain 65
    Lithuania 89 vs. Nigeria 80
    Argentina 90 vs. Croatia 82

    Women’s

    Australia 89 vs. France 71
    Belarus 65 vs. Brazil 63
    Turkey 76 vs. Japan 62

    Brazil 66 vs. Spain 65

    Brazil rode an impressive home court advantage to knock off the second ranked Spain this afternoon. The crowd was raucous from opening tip and pushed Brazil to a strong start that Spain just couldn’t overcome despite some timely surges. This was a back and forth affair and featured a few second half runs that kept it close when Brazil was on the verge of pulling away. The Brazilians came out with tremendous defensive intensity and did well to limit Pau Gasol throughout the game.

    Brazil received a masterful outing from Marcelo Huertas (11-4-7). The veteran point guard was in command all day long, picking apart Spain’s defensive schemes with a series of cheeky floaters, runners and precision passes. He and Raul Neto showed tremendous patience in the pick and roll, drawing the lumbering Gasol out of the paint and opening up the lane for drives and cuts. Spain tried to cover up for Gasol’s deficiencies by showing some zone looks but was still victimized by backdoor cuts. Both Nene and Augusto Lima (#23) did a great job keeping Gasol out of the post, denying him the ball in several instances and holding on long enough for help to arrive in a handful of other moments. Marquinhos (#14) had the winner, sneaking behind Nikola Mirotic to tip in a Huertas floater with 5.5 seconds to go after the inbound pass snuck past Gasol under the rim. Ultimately, Brazil played a smart game and won the backcourt battle; Huertas in particular was key in the victory.

    Spain struggled to generate much on offense all day long and finished shooting just 19-52 (36.5%) against a smart and active Brazilian defense. They had some silly turnovers in the form of bad travels and bungled passes. They finished with 13 turnovers to 12 assists and really couldn’t cope with Gasol’s rough day. Gasol led the team in scoring but was a major liability on defense, at times caught standing with arms spread and no player to guard in sight. He also shot an uncharacteristic 5-12 from the free throw line on a day where even one make could’ve vastly changed Spain’s fortunes. Ricky Rubio fouled out after another invisible performance while Mirotic couldn’t find his stroke, finishing 2-8 from the floor and 0-4 from deep.

    One of the few players to look good was Sergio Llull (#23; 11 points, 2 triples) who hit a big time shot to give Spain the lead with about a minute to go. He was also trusted with the ball on Spain’s final possession and tried his best to generate offense while most of the team looked stuck in mud.

    Spain is now in some serious trouble in Group B. At 0-2 they’re on the outside looking in alongside Nigeria and won’t own the tiebreak against perceived weakling Brazil. Spain could finish at 3-2 if they win out against Nigeria, Argentina and Lithuania but will need some major help to get through. It’s a shocking defeat after Spain fell to a game Croatian squad in their Rio debut.

    Top Performers

    Brazil Spain
    Points Huertas 11
    Marquinhos 10
    Lima / Garcia 9
    Gasol 13
    Llull 11
    Rodriguez 10
    Rebounds Lima 10
    Marquinhos 5
    Nene / Huertas / Garcia 4
    Gasol 10
    Mirotic 8
    Rubio / Claver 4
    Assists Huertas 7
    Nene 5
    Neto / Garcia 2
    Rodriguez 5
    Fernandez / Mirotic 2
    Gasol / Claver / Reyes 1

    Stray Thoughts:

    • Spain looked so bad on offense in the first half; they picked Croatia apart but can’t handle Brazil?
    • Ricky Rubio fouled out in another bad game, Sergio Rodriguez has to be on his tail
    • Rubio and Gasol seems like a bad combo to run; teams help off RR so easily so Sergio’s shooting is a better fit
    • Navarro (#7) had a real rough day, missed some good open looks and fired up a few bad shots
    • Would like to see more of OKC’s Alex Abrines moving forward but Spain might trim the rotation with things looking dire
    • Cristiano Felicio looks much slimmer; nice effort off the bench today
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