Minor issues don’t slow down Spain


VIDEO: Spain wins easily over Senegal on Day 7 of World Cup action

MADRID — We are one step closer to what could be a riveting Spain-USA final at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The Americans took care of business against Mexico in Barcelona on Saturday, and the hosts did the same against Senegal in Madrid.

Spain’s 89-56 victory was a foregone conclusion from the tip and never got very interesting. But Senegal did keep the game within single digits for most of the first half and may have exposed a couple of issues for what has been the best team in the tournament.

The Gasol brothers, Marc and Pau, have been mostly terrific over the eight days. But they had some trouble keeping Senegal’s bouncy bigs off the offensive glass in the first half. The only African team that made it through to the knockout rounds grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, with Spain securing only 13 of their opponents’ 26 missed shots and free throws.

“They’re a long team and they crash the boards,” Pau Gasol said afterward. “They chased their rebounds well and they gave themselves opportunities.”

Senegal converted all those second chances into only four points. They were one of the worst shooting teams in the tournament, lacked size in the backcourt and didn’t get much from the Timberwolves’ Gorgui Dieng on Saturday. He shot 1-for-9 and scored just six points. Dieng and his countrymen were a feel-good story in Group B, but were also the worst team that got through to the round of 16.

The U.S. is obviously a lot more skilled. And they have as athletic a frontline as anybody, starting Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis at the four and five. The U.S. was the fifth best offensive rebounding team in group play.

And the Americans were No. 1 at forcing turnovers. A more minor issue that Spain had on Saturday was dealing with Senegal’s defensive length. Some passes that they got away with in group play were deflected or intercepted.

Spain committed just 11 turnovers for the game and limited to just three offensive rebounds in the second half. So yeah, we’re picking nits here. But there’s little else to do when these two teams are on a collision course, with little resistance from the opponents they’ve seen so far.

Should they meet in the gold medal game on Sept. 14, the U.S. will provide more defensive pressure than Spain has seen until that point. Spain, of course, will have the best defense and the most weapons that the U.S. has seen. The pressure will be high in more ways than one and every possession will be critical.

For now, we look forward to the quarterfinals, where each team will face a tougher test than they had on Saturday. The U.S. will need to defend against Slovenia’s No. 1 ranked offense, while Spain deals with the French defense that shut down Croatia for much of their 69-64 victory in the early game in Madrid.

Come Tuesday and Wednesday, we can nitpick some more.

7 Comments

  1. for me the big issue of Spain’s coach is not properly distributing the minutes of his players

  2. Tyson says:

    This is a Spain team that only lost to the USA olympic team by 7! The current Usa team is a big downgrade losing Kobe Kd and Lbj and a number of other all stars. Spain takes it no doubt.

  3. Someone says:

    USA thinks they should only be worried about Spain’s big men. wait till Navarro murders them

  4. Chris says:

    Spain wants to beat us so badly, they may just do it! Go USA!

  5. Manuel Pineda says:

    It was a plus-33 pts victory but it wasn’t a good game of Spain at all. At least they corrected some issues after the halftime, which is something they’ve been doing all tournament and it’s a good sign compared with last year in the Eurobasket. But I’m concerned about not being focused all time. Senegal, as Mr. Schumann said, made only 4 points after grabbing some many off. rebounds, but if it would’ve been Greece or France those rebounds could’ve been easily 10-12 points, and that’s something Spain cannot allow in later rounds. I hope next round they won’t have that lack of concentration. And other thing to be concerned about, if you’re a spanish fan of course, is the 3-point percentage. When Spain has a decent, not even great, long-shooting percentage it’s basically unstoppable on the ofensive end because they have too many ways of hurting you, but they need more consistency on the shooting to have a shot (not pun intended) at the title.

  6. rjsl says:

    USA all the way!

  7. harriethehawk says:

    We are cooking with gas come quarterfinals. Let the real games and real teams finally begin!