Day 1 Men: ESP 83 - CHN 58
Gasol inspires spain
ATHENS (Olympics) - Pau Gasol and Spain's lightning quick guards ran past China on Sunday to open their Olympic campaign on a triumphant note.
Spain, looking to build on their silver medal success at last year's Eurobasket in Sweden, romped to an 83-58 win.
They broke open a close contest by going on a 20-8 run in the final eight minutes of the first half to lead 42-30 and it was a struggle for China the rest of the way.
Gasol, the seven-foot Memphis Grizzlies power forward, had 21 points on an array of shots and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
On one occasion in the decisive quarter, the Barcelona native soared into the lane and dunked with two hands over Yao Ming and was fouled on the play. He converted the free throw for a 29-23 advantage.
"I really enjoyed the slam dunk in the face of Yao, but it was nothing personal," Gasol said. "I just like to always play hard. I don't care who the opponent is."
Early on, China looked a well-organised side under boss Del Harris, a veteran NBA coach who's currently an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks.
After keeping the game within reach, they unravelled over the final two minutes of the third quarter.
Spain went on a 9-0 run as guards Juan Carlos Navarro and Jose Manuel Calderon scored all of the points.
That gave them a 61-43 stranglehold on the game and the result was never in doubt after.
"We are in great shape," Gasol said. "We played hard against a great team and we managed to start the Olympic tournament with a very good performance. If we continue to play like this, we can dream of an Olympic medal."
Gasol did take a shot to the nose in the first half but continued to play.
"I hope not to have a serious problem," he said, "I will have an X-ray when we get back to the Olympic Village." Yao, the centre of the NBA's Houston Rockets, had just 12 points and eight rebounds.
"I feel so disappointed," he said. "I lost all of my hope for this team. I didn't expect to play so bad. We changed our skin but we are the same, just like the World Championships in Indianapolis two years ago."
From Jeff Taylor, PA International, Athens
Pau GASOL (ESP), Forward
On the game and his personal fight with YAO Ming:
"We are in great shape. We played hard against a great team and we managed to start the Olympic tournament with a very good performance. If we continue to play like this, we can dream of an Olympic medal. I really enjoyed the slam-dunk in the face of YAO, but there is nothing personal, I just like to play always hard. I dont care about my opponent."
On the injury to his nose:
"I hope not to have a serious problem. I will have an x-ray when we will be back to the Olympic Village."
On the security at the Olympic Village:
"I feel safe living in the Olympic Village. There are a lot of security people there."
On his participation in the Olympic Games:
"Its great to be a part of the Olympic team. Its emotional to play for your country."
Juan Carlos NAVARRO (ESP) Guard
On the game:
"We were better team than China. We played an excellent game especially with the front line and we take an easy victory."
Rodrigo de la FUENTE (ESP): Guard
On the game :
"It was the first game and always is difficult to play well but we were very concentrate and won easily. We wanted to win and play a good game. We are satisfied."
On the opponent
"China is a good team but we must think now the next game."
|Press conference quotes:|
Rodrigo DE LA FUENTE (ESP)
"Very important win for us. Its tough to start such a tournament after many days without competing. Pau GASOL is without any doubt our reference player, but in general our team is able to play consistently regardless of Paus performance. To win great tournaments, you dont need just superstars but a great team. We dedicate todays victory to the Queen of Spain who was here with us, as well as to the Spanish fans who came to the arena."
YAO Ming (CHN)
On the game:
"I have no regrets that we lost, we had our opportunities. We made many mistakes and paid for them. Congratulations to Spain on their victory."
On which of the teams China faced (Serbia & Montenegro, Argentina, Spain) is the best:
"All three are excellent teams, I dont see how I could tell which one is the best."
On his bursting out in frustration during the game:
"An old Chinese saying goes, If you dont burst out from silence, you fade into it.'"
Mario PESQUERA, coach (ESP)
On the game:
"We were prepared for a tough game. We had followed Chinas preparation games and worked hard in rebounding and defense, finishing the game with a winning margin that can prove very important for us."
On whether the United States has regressed or other countries have improved:
"The United States have always been a reference for us. Weve learned from their approach. I have been many times in the U.S. and learned from great coaches like Del HARRIS. Certainly the U.S. did not take a step back, but we worked a lot ourselves."
Dedicating the game:
"I dedicate it to the Queen and our fans, like my player, and also to the three players I had to cut from the squad, in the hardest decision of my life."
Del HARRIS, coach (CHN)
On the game:
"I am disappointed at the way we played. We are a better team than we showed today, certainly a better-shooting team. Spain did an exceptional job on defense. I watched a lot of them on tape, but tapes dont show the defensive intensity they were able to play with as they did today."
On YAO Ming:
"Today he was too much of a team player. Id rather see him take shots or draw fouls. He is a team player and knows we have good shooters. Maybe Id like to see him take more shots and be more aggressive in the rest of the tournament."
On whether the United states have regressed or the other countries have improved:
"Theres no case of regression. At international level, talent and coaching has improved immeasurably. The United States, the NBA are still good, but if you are B and work more than A, some day you will catch up with A no matter where you were born."
On his Chinese experience:
"We had problems such as the language barrier, I had to demonstrate a lot. I had also had to do tape editing, scouting, and coaching at the same time. But I like so much being around these players. They are real gentlemen, and they treat me like I was the king of China. I enjoyed marching and taking pictures with them in the opening ceremony."
On young YI Jianlian:
"Some day he will be in the NBA. At 17, he is a very good player, but short on experience. He was not even a starter in his club, and now he gets to guard an NBA star like GASOL. In two years he will be drafted and you will see a lot of improvement in him, but now hes still just a kid."
Source: Athens News Service