It was the youngest in the booth, point guard Juan Núñez, who at just 19 years old led Spain’s victory over Brazil (78-96) in their second date at the Basketball World Cup. There is a huge player in this game director who left Real Madrid in search of minutes, even if it was in the Bundesliga. The boy exhibited impudence, as if it were not his debut on a big stage with the absolute, he added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Scariolo’s team was hooked on that joy to tie a victory that ensures him the leadership of the group G in the absence of facing Iran this Wednesday. By the way, the ticket in your pocket for the next phase, in which the two classified from group H, Latvia and Canada (eliminated France) will be measured on Friday and Sunday. From this second group, two teams will advance to the quarterfinals, already in Manila on September 6.
Spain started with Llull and Claver in the starting five as novelties regarding the first date, a movement generated by the momentary reserve of Abrines due to a blow to the knee against the Ivory Coast. Núñez began to move the team, without fear to play a triple (and score it) within seconds of missing one, and Willy was the hammer he used to start the game with his powerful body. Brazil was looking for the tickles to attack inside with Caboclo and link combinations to below the rim, and Soares and De Paula also struck from the perimeter. Spain stole and ran, but needed one more point of fever in defense, the watchword of its winning formula. Scariolo rescued Abrines to increase the decibels at a time when the Brazilian team had taken the point from the outside shot (17-14). The wheel of changes continued with Díaz, Rudy, Aldama and Garuba, fresh legs and hands to get out of a stretch of traffic jam in attack and spaces denied by the rival zone. Brazil gave a reel to the eternal Marcelinho, the oldest World Cup veteran at 40, and the yellows reached the first break one centimeter ahead (22-21). Spain already knew that it was facing a bone.
The team needed to sharpen their aim and there an unexpected three-pointer emerged, Alberto Díaz, to attack the Brazilian web. In the exchange of blows, Brazil hurt in the paint, uncovering holes in the Spanish defense. Another distant bingo by Rudy and a steal by Brizuela from Marcelinho gave oxygen to the Spanish team (28-34). The new Barça shooting guard brought those drops of impudence in the offensive zone and the colossus Garuba emerged from the rear to block Santos. Spain had pressed the button to defend and from that base began to cement the building. Aldama shook off the rookie’s nerves from a distance, Garuba provided the basket for the points and Núñez continued to show off that cheeky style (32-44). The boy is a gem. Brazil became strong on the rebound, pressed to stay connected to the game and with a basket from Felicio in the last tenth they kept their arms raised (42-50) at the break.
Scariolo repeated the initial scheme after the intermission, although with the players already passed through the coach’s blackboard in the locker room, those minutes in which the coaching staff sharpens their analysis. Claver responded to Santos’ three-pointer with the confidence he displayed in his first steps in the World Cup. The Valencia Basket forward was an inexhaustible worker and without fanfare, the perfect soldier. Núñez found Willy, a connection that can be very productive. The income was maintained for the team because the South American team was going through a period with its sights off (49-59), although it resisted based on sacks and second chances. The Spanish team did not end there to tighten the belt. Nor was it the best night for Juancho Hernangómez, lukewarm to the wrist. It was a game to sweat, and who better than Alberto Díaz for those duties as a belt wrapper. The Unicaja point guard caused a foul in attack and Aldama, from less to more, hit with a reverse, but a triple from Meindl, again in the final breath, closed the third quarter with everything on the wire (59-64).
Garuba’s overwhelming strength played a trick on him. The pivot crushed the Brazilian ring and the referees called him a technique for hanging. There was no time for distractions anymore. Brazil paid the toll for taking too much refuge in some triples that did not go in. Spain opened the door to another new couple. First Núñez, a visionary for assists, sent Garuba flying to catch a ball near the basket. Then it was the pivot, throwing himself on the ground in search of recovering the ball, who served the action to the youngster. The Ratiopharm Ulm point guard, champion of the German League, is growing by leaps and bounds. The gamemaster does everything, and almost everything, well. He penetrates, passes, directs and scores. A triple from Madrid, named the best of the match, stretched the Spanish advantage to 62-79, a margin that was maintained until the end. The victory was tied in that last section, although several cries from Scariolo would still fall. With Latvia and Canada in sight, the coach does not accept a moment of relaxation. After the first fence, there is no rest.
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