Spain vs. Great Britain Olympic Basketball: Grades, Twitter Reaction & Analysis
Spain and Great Britain entered Thursday's Group B game on two very different paths. Spain appears to be Team USA's biggest threat, and Great Britain is just trying to compete.
Spain won this game 79-78, but the basketball scene in London nearly took an unexpected turn. Luol Deng did his best impression of an Old West gunslinger, blazing his way to a 26-point effort. His production on both ends of the floor allowed his team to outscore Spain by 11 points in the fourth quarter.
You could hear a pin drop when Deng pulled his team within one with a three-pointer in the game's final moments, but despite their wonderful team effort they fell one point short of an unthinkable upset. Spain played inexcusably at times, and it created the most exciting hardwood action in London so far.
Now, Spain is 3-0. Their frontcourt, featuring the Gasol brothers and all-world defender Serge Ibaka, is the the best interior team in London. Throw Jose Calderon and Rudy Fernandez on the perimeter, and you have a squad worth watching.
Great Britain doesn't have that luxury. We knew they would be bad when Ben Gordon decided not to lace it up this summer, but their situation has been worse than expected. They were minus-25 in two losing efforts before this game and now sit at minus-26 overall. Deng has played well, but he's mostly unsupported besides Joel Freeland's contributions on Thursday.
You've heard enough from me for now. Let's see what everyone else had to say about Thursday's Olympic tilt.
New York Daily News reporter Frank Isola reported on the fan's following in this game:
Great Britain vs Spain in hoops is not quite GB vs Spain in futbol. Plenty of good seats still available. Looks like a Bobcats home game— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) August 2, 2012
There should never be empty seats for an Olympic game. I don't care who's playing. Comparing this game to a seven-win NBA franchise paints a vivid picture of the empty arena.
Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski had this to say about Luol Deng's overall effort:
Impossible to not admire tenacity and resolve Luol Deng's brought to leading Great Britain here. They're within 64-58 on Spain w/ 5 left.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 2, 2012
He's right. Outside of Freeland's effort today, Deng has had no help on either end of the court. He's a great player when he's on, but it's been a lot to ask of one guy.
Associated Press writer Tom Withers spoke to the game's waning moments and Britain's basketball history:
Great Britain goes all sloppy in final minute, appears Spain will hang on. Brits last Olympic win came in '48. #APOlympics.— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) August 2, 2012
Great Britain hung in, but they are still winless. It was an admirable effort nonetheless.
Pau Gasol: A-
Gasol only had two rebounds, but his 17-poind effort was instrumental in Spain's victory. He also dished out five assists. Gasol's veteran savvy goes a long way toward Spain's medal hopes.
Marc Gasol: B+
The younger Gasol had 12 points, three rebounds and one assist. He also had three turnovers, but his offensive presence makes Spain very though to stop. He's also excellent at eating up space in the paint.
Rudy Fernandez: A
Fernandez only had nine points, but his seven assists were crucial to Spain's ball movement. He also had five rebounds and played like the NBA veteran that he is. He was Spain's top facilitator on Thursday.
Joel Freeland: A
Deng's 26-point outburst was expected, but Freeland's 25-point supporting effort was not. He hit three three-point shots and also hauled down four rebounds. Without his help, Great Britain wouldn't have kept this game close. He was vital to their extraordinary effort.
Luol Deng: A
In order for Great Britain to keep this one close Deng was going to need a big game. He's one of the best players not on Team USA's roster, and he's shown his ability to take over a game. Deng's 26 points, along with Freeland, paced the Britons' effort. Every time his team needed a bucket, Deng delivered.
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