On the way to future goals, Spain closed the first phase of the World Cup with a full three victories after solving the meeting against Iran (65-85) at half throttle, results that carry over to the next round. In that next stage, group L, the team will face Latvia on Friday (11:45, Spanish peninsular time) and Canada on Sunday (15:30) in search of the quarterfinals. In this phase, each team avoids facing the rival that was already measured in the first league (Brazil in the Spanish case), and only plays two games against two new opponents (Latvian and Canadian). The results achieved in the initial round are carried over, and the first two will be in Manila to participate in the quarterfinals on September 5 and 6, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. If it advances, Spain will come across a rival from the group made up of Slovenia, Germany, Australia and Georgia. A bone.
Against Iran, an anomaly. For the first time in his career, as he later confessed, Scariolo did not ask for a timeout. He wanted to let his players get out of the traps they found along the way on their own, to find the solutions themselves. The rival lent himself to the test tube. It was also the turn to complete the filming of some pieces and give some rest to others (Rudy) while waiting for mountains higher than that of the eternal Hamed Haddadi (38 years old) and his companions. And the moment for the youngest Juan Núñez to continue climbing steps two by two, for Juancho to recover sensations in the shot, to give Parra a reel and test Abrines’ right knee after his blow on the first day. Perhaps because of this lack of intensity, with the classification already in hand beforehand, Spain began with the softness in the two baskets that Scariolo sometimes reproaches (8-4, 15-6). The coach traded four pawns at the same time, propped up the defense with Claver and Garuba, and the match ended at the end of the first quarter (17-16).
Spain was another with Santi Aldama and Garuba on the inside. They are both hungry and know they are under the spotlight. The Memphis center, because he makes his debut on the big catwalk with the senior team. His position partner, because Oklahoma has closed the NBA door for him for the moment and he wants to make merit to hunt down the best offer. Spain explored this new internal connection, instead of the main one with the Hernangómez brothers, and began to put things in the place they were supposed to (19-25). The boys have plenty of energy, and when the defensive mechanic fits, the team is recognizable. Willy displayed his good footwork in the paint, and Abrines and Juancho sharpened their aim from the perimeter. In the backyard, the hands appeared for the anticipations and to leave Iran without time of possession. Without great happiness, and yes with more difficulties than expected, the team commanded at half-time (34-43).
The same warmth from the beginning was repeated on the return. Probably because the heads of the Spanish players were already in that decisive phase in which they will begin to risk their bread, in the fight to get closer to the medals and also to tie the pass to the Olympic Games (only directly the two European teams best ranked). The theoretical explanation did not convince Scariolo, nor his defensive specialist, Luis Guil, who pressed from the band. Iran’s surrender kept them in the match. In the national team each pawn contributed without stridency: Brizuela, Juancho and Aldama (52-64 to close the third quarter).
Alberto Díaz does not understand transition days. Neither did Garuba, who again threw himself on the ground in search of a ball. Claver, who was turning 35, joined the list of soldiers to maintain the fever demanded by Scariolo and set a score more in line with the distance between the two teams (61-78). Willy fattened his stats sheet with the facility he shows for scoring (16 points and nine rebounds), even though the coach demands more of a cut on the opposite board, and Juancho increased his contribution to 21 points. Saved the last slope, now the real ramps arrive in Spain.
And although he did not play due to rest, it was also Rudy Fernández’s day. The captain reached 253 international matches (officially the presences are counted in the minutes, even if the player does not jump onto the court), a record with which he equals the record of Juan Carlos Navarro as the players with the most duels with the senior men. Laia Palau with 314 and Amaya Valdemoro with 258 exceed these marks in the women’s team, and Marina Ferragut shares the bar of Navarro and Rudy. The Real Madrid forward has stretched his passion for the national jersey to the age of 38 and continues to nurture a legendary track record that includes 11 medals with the Family, including the six golds that Spanish men’s basketball has collected in its history: two World Cups and four Eurobasket. Rudy is still on the court in the fifth World Cup of his career and is aiming for another milestone, that of becoming the only basketball player on the planet to have played six Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
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