Friday, August 22, 2008

Gold Medal Game: Spain vs. USA

  Flag_USA USA beats  Flag_ARG Argentina 101 - 81
LeBron James and the Americans have been heads and shoulders above the competition Wow! The United States had a tougher than expect fight against an Argentinean team that only had Manu for 6 minutes of action, eventually winning 101 - 81. Luis Scola had a great game for his nation, with 28 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Carlos Delfino added 17 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals to the cause -- though his shooting percentages were inefficient (33.3 fg%, 30.0 3pt%) to say the least. The American side was, once again, a balanced attack that features 7 players in double figure scoring (Anthony 21, James 15, Wade 12, Bryant 12, Paul 12, Bosh 11, Howard 10). The USA team won the battle of the glass 43 to 32, but that was really it. Both teams shot in the mid 40s (Argentina 44.1%, USA 47.1%); and both teams had the same number of turn overs (Argentina 16, USA 15) -- the difference, though, was the surprising proficiency the Americans had at the three point line (they made 10 threes this game, while Argentina only made 6), and the fact that the free throw disparity was ridiculous. Argentina went to the FT line 16 times and made 15 of them. The United States went to the free throw line 36 times (and made 27 of them). I didn't watch the game, so I don't know how it went -- but the more aggressive team usually gets to the line more. The boxscore suggests that this team was the USA.
  Flag_ESP Spain beats Flag_LTU Lithuania 91 - 86
Gasol probably played his best game, in a game that counted, ever . . . The other game ended up being (to me at the very least) an upset victory by Spain over Lithuania. Sure, Spain has all of those high profile players, but Lithuania is (usually) a better team. (Lithuania is like the Detroit Pistons -- they are always at the final four stage, but hardly ever break through) Spain was up by 2 at the end of the 1st quarter. Then Lithuania was up by 2 at the half. Then Lithuania goes up by 4 at the end of three. Spain had a 4th quarter come back and ended up outscoring the Lithuanians by 9 to finish the game with the 91 - 86 win. The first thing that is interesting is that Spain wins by 5 points in a game where Lithuanian workhorse Linas Kleiza plays only 11 minutes and doesn't score at all. Why is this important? It is because in previous games this Olympics he had scored 13 (+ game winner), 22, 18, 12 and 15 points. He was a major cog for this team -- and despite his absence (due to an ejection early in the game), the Lithuanians were able to go into the 4th quarter with the lead.
  Spain was, of course, playing without Jose Calderon, so it should cancel out, right? (Except Spain is deeper at PG than Lithuania is behind Kleiza) Raul Lopez had 7 points, 3 assists and 2 steals for Spain, and Ricky Rubio had 4 points and 4 assists in Calderon's absence. Together they also totaled 8 rebounds -- not too shabby from your 2nd and 3rd string point guards. Aside from that, the usual suspects did their things (Pau Gasol had 19, Rudy Fernandez with 18, Sarunas Jasikevicius had 19 and 6 assists, and Simas Jasaitis had 19 points and 8 rebounds)

I fully expect Lithuania to win the Bronze now, especially how close they got to the Gold Medal game, this is a certainty if Manu can't play in that game. As for the big show, well, you have to think that the USA team will try to embarrass Spain a 2nd time on their way towards achieving International redemption.