After the double blow of the defeat against Slovenia and the draw for the quarterfinals, Spain will seek to break the spell in its fifth Olympic match in a row against the USA: “We have always given them war, we have always protected them.”
Spain’s next game on Sunday at the Saitama Super Arena, home to so many good memories, was played just a few minutes later, in the same press room where Sergio Scariolo he had just relativized the defeat against Slovenia (87-95) “due to a couple of details or mistakes”. In the ineffable new system devised by FIBA for the Games, there was room for a draw. A conditional draw, by the way, because the best second had to face another of the second (not one of the two best third parties). As soon as the first tie (France-Italy) was revealed, the team knew its fate, the ogre that consecutively frustrated it in the last four Olympic events, the USA Team.
The players met their horizon on the way to the Villa, still circling the strange clash against Slovenia, especially the outcome. They were not caught by surprise, so soon enough, he conjures it up. What if the fifth is the final? “To the USA, to close the circle. If what it is about is to go for the gold, there is no better moment”, was heard in that bus, where all the precedents were mentally reviewed, defeats that, however, they made this group great.
Because some of those battles, the finals in Beijing and London, are in the Olympus of this generation. The most golden defeats, the most remembered for being able to face those heirs of the Dream Team with a daring never before seen. At the fifth, perhaps the one that is least expected, Spain will look for the charm, although everyone would have wanted that triple of Alberto abalde entered and the duel would have been postponed a few days, closer to the medals. “It is an opportunity to do something very special,” he valued this Monday Pau Gasol, aware of the emotional side of what may be the last game of his career.
The physical factor
Incomparable is this Spain with that, although the Gasol, Rudy, Ricky… But also the USA, which, in a nod to what happened in Athens 2004, once again savored the bitterness of the Olympic defeat. Losing against France at the start determined their destiny and ours. 17 years ago, the first episode of the saga, the team that two later was going to win the World Cup, impeccable in the first phase, crossed paths with that hesitant USA Team who was going to dust off their genius – seven triples of Stephon marbury– at the appointment of rooms.
Also in Rio, five years ago, the NBA plucked the Spain that most resembles this. A team that extends its past with honor and medals. And that he is still the current world champion. In 2016, despite looking like the tightest score, it was a more severe defeat, as the yankees they imposed their physique and left no loophole. That aspect is perhaps the one that most concerned the national team when it already looked glancingly at what fate could bring in a few minutes, after the trigger against Luka doncic.
Because Spain, in addition to the disgust, took a good hot flush in the legs. And he will have one less day of rest than an opponent he already bowed to two weeks ago in Las Vegas (83-76). “This little rest is for everyone. To top, to improve physically and mentally and to be prepared,” he reasoned Marc Gasol before. “We have to rejuvenate in one day. This team is legendary for how it has been able to compete over the years. We have to be ourselves, maintain our identity,” Scariolo asked before meeting the rival.
“With all the ambition in the world”
Is Kevin Durant, as in Rio. Well escorted around the perimeter by talents like Damian Lillard, Devin Booker or Jason Tatum (26 points to the Czech Republic). Bam Adebayo it is your bulwark in painting, Draymond green his heart and Jrue Holiday your brain. Although the hope is that this Dream Team is no longer so dreamy, as if with the goodbye of Mike krzyzewski they would have become mortal. Not only did they succumb in the last World Cup, in this same preparation they left two lapses for concern (against Nigeria and Australia), after the French setback of their debut in Tokyo: they had not lost in a Games since 2004, 24 career wins.
“We have to try the final jump. [En el pasado] We have stayed one step away. We will go with all the ambition in the world “, he valued just after Jorge Garbajosa, just landed in Tokyo, as if he himself had concocted the conspiracy.
As the hours passed, Scariolo valued what he had achieved and launched another song against pessimism. “They are the favorites. The respect we have earned in recent years is a double-edged sword. They will be focused. But we have always given them war, we have always protected them,” he warned, imagining a tight outcome: “Entering a last open room, options … there can be many variables. We have to trust ourselves. We have been a world reference and we will try to continue to be “.