Day 2 Men: ESP 87 - ARG 76
Spain tops Argentina and Group A
ATHENS - With great poise throughout and a fourth-quarter rally, Spain found itself alone on top of Group A in Olympic Mens Basketball after downing Argentina 87-76 on Tuesday at Helliniko Indoor Arena.
Spain trailed throughout the third quarter but made its move early in the fourth behind reserves Rodrigo DE LA FUENTE and Iker ITURBE. Spain became the only 2-0 team in Group A. Argentina fell to 1-1.
Pau GASOL led five Spanish scorers in double figures with 26 points. Jose Manuel CALDERON added 17, Jorge GARBAJOSA 12, ITURBE 11 and DE LA FUENTE 10.
Luis SCOLA led Argentina with 28. Emanuel GINOBILI added 17 and Fabricio OBERTO 10.
Spain had raced to an early 17-10 advantage punctuated by a 3-pointer from CALDERON. Then came a rare five-point possession his free throws plus a basket, missed foul shot, rebound and layup by GASOL for a high lead of 23-12. GINOBILI then woke up, however, to cut the difference to 25-18 after 10 minutes.
The second quarter belonged to Argentina and SCOLA. His five points sparked a 10-0 start that put Argentina ahead. Three more SCOLA baskets and a 3-pointer by Alejandro MONTECCHIA pushed Argentinas advantage to 38-31. Spain was only able to reduce it by three points, to 40-35, by halftime.
GINOBILI upped Argentinas lead to 44-35 with a rebound put-back and dunked steal to start the third quarter. Spain used GARBAJOSAs points to stay close, but when GINOBILIs three-point play on a baseline drive was followed by a MONTECCHIA shot from deep, Argentina was up nine again, 58-49. Spain went into a zone defence and rode 3-pointers by DE LA FUENTE and GARBAJOSA to pull within 58-60 after 30 minutes.
A 3-point duel to start the fourth quarter ended with DE LA FUENTE tying it 66-66 with 7:44 left to play. Argentinas shooters went cold now, and ITURBE put Spain ahead on a sweet backdoor play.
When DE LA FUENTE poured in the next four points, Spain was in control. GASOL and ITURBE added pair of free throws to give Spain a 72-66 edge with under 4 minutes left. ITURBEs next shot landed from deep and Spain cruised the rest of the way.
Spain next meets Australia on Thursday, when Argentina goes against China.
Jorge GARBAJOSA (ESP) - Forward
On the game:
"Ot was a very tough game, similar to the friendly one we played against Argentina in Madrid. Like ten days ago, we were behind in the beginning of the second half and we managed to recover, come back and finally escape with a very important win. We stayed focused and we didn't panic when Argentina took a nine point lead."
On their winning strike:
"It gives us confidence, but we aren't flying in the sky. We know which are our abilities, but we can't say where we can reach. At first we want the first place in our group to qualify in the quarterfinals and then we are going to see what we can achieve."
Carlos NAVARRO (ESP) - Guard
On the game:
"Tonight we made the most important step towards the quarterfinals. We are determined to look ahead, take one game at the time and see how far we can go. All we have to do is play as a team and continue this kind of performance."
|Press conference quotes:|
Jose Manuel CALDERON (ESP) - Guard
On the game:
"The game went as we expected. We played recently against Argentina in Madrid and knew it was not going to be an easy game. We read the game well and responded well to everything. In the last quarter, Rodrigo (DE LA FUENTE) and Iker (ITURBE) came off the bench and did well. We didn't lose control even when we were down by nine. We were convinced that we would win. Even if we had lost, life would go on and we would look on the next game."
Mario PESQUERA (ESP) - Coach
On the result:
"We played an exceptional game against an exceptional team, whose players have been together and with the same coach for years, and I am proud we won. We had problems in the first half, we balanced things a little bit in the third quarter, but the key was the fourth, where we used zone like we had in Madrid too. With all due respect to coach MAGNANO, this is where his team had the most problems. It's too early to talk about medals. We say today that neither Italy or Serbia and Montenegro are easy teams, nor is New Zealand. We all have to improve, both players and coaches, to go forward."
Leonardo Martin GUTIERREZ (ARG) - Forward
On why Argentina lost:
"I saw most of the game from the bench, but from what I saw we played well in the beginning, both in defense and offense. The problems started in the fourth quarter, when we got a little disoriented in attack and were not able to keep the same intensity in defense. Maybe we relaxed a little, we gave Spain open shots and committed many fouls, resulting in Spain taking 38 free throws."
Ruben MAGNANO, Head Coach (ARG)
On the game:
"We started lacking concentration, but turned things around really well in the end of the first half, when we went up by nine. When the flow of the game changed, we did not go for the right options, like Spain did and came back in less than a minute. That was pretty much the end for us. We tried to correct things, but we made bad choices in shooting, and Spain came out a fair winner, doing the right things at the right time."
Source: Athens news service