Spain vs. China: Players That Impressed in Opening Basketball Matchup

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29:  Pau Gasol #4 of Spain looks for the ball against Zhizhi Wang #14 of China during their Men's Basketball Game on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 29, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Spain men’s national basketball team coasted to a relatively easy 16-point victory over the Chinese 97-81. Armed with a stellar group of NBA talent, the Spanish ran away with the lead in the second quarter and never looked back.

This matchup was Olympic basketball to the core, with many renowned professionals on display. Let’s take a look at which ballers stepped up on the world stage.

Pau Gasol

The stars came out to play in this matchup and nobody shined brighter than Spain’s veteran leader.

Gasol performed in a groove that seemed refreshing outside of the Lakers offense, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 boards while setting up his teammates for easy looks. His performance set the tone for the rest of the Spanish bigs, who were comfortable playing second fiddle to Pau in the offense.

With Pau leading the charge, Spain's inside game is better than any other team in the field. Against China's long bigs, Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian, they had no problem having their way. That's a scary thought.

Yi Jianlian

Jianlian get the ‘brilliant in defeat’ award, as he had one of his best performances of his entire career, NBA seasons included.The Chinese sharpshooter posted a double-double, going for 30 points and 12 rebounds.

Perhaps international play suits Jianlian’s game, but if can be reincarnate that performance, there’s certainly room for minutes available for him on the Washington Wizards rotation.

He paced the Chinese offense all game, showing off a deep range and hitting some difficult shots over the Spanish defenders.


Serge Ibaka

Seems like an obvious choice, but when Ibaka puts up a complete game like this, it’s easy to see why Spain has a bright future with their young star. Ibaka brought a defensive intensity to his team, with three blocks and a ton of challenges at the rim.

But that’s a given. What viewers didn’t expect was Ibaka to be the most efficient player on the floor.

The big man went 8-for-11 from the field, hitting his 18-footer that NBA fans know so well with ease. Let’s not forget his clean sheet; he had no turnovers on the day as well.