Kevin Durant leads a powerful second half of the USA Team, which escaped the initial magic (39-29) of Spain of a historic Ricky, author of 38 points (81-95).
In the eternal challenge to the empire there is also the legend of the selection, in that revenge that became impossible, but that was raised with renewed pride each time. Spain once again succumbed to its last frontier (81-95), which defined its own ambitions. I left in Saitama a first part in the heavens, but Kevin Durant and his troops were able to recover to fleece for the fifth time in a row to the selection in a Games. Honor to the end at a noon in Japan where the historical display of Ricky Rubio (38 points) seemed a tribute to the brothers Gasoline, who played their last game with this shirt.
Everything begins and everything ends with the United States. They are the ones who humanize themselves and grant dreams to their once unthinkable rivals. But only the perfection of others and self-fulfillment can convert these cracks of the present yankee in the definitive collapse, in the one who has been chasing Spain for a lifetime. When the national team met its cruel fate, once again the ogre that made it bitter in the last four Games, not a lament was heard. Messages in the antipodes of conformity. Transform the impossible into a pending account to be settled. Well-earned pride.
It happens to Spain that its own legend harms it, because it alerts the rest, aware of its ability to compete, of its past successes. Who doesn’t want to bring down the world champion? And, also, that the years pass and the fullness recedes: in Saitama it was revealed with the Gasol brothers, who soon became secondary to what was happening. It has been compensated by his own Scariolo with his tactical wisdom, with the self-esteem of the collective, with the additions of the youngest … But the physical power of the USA Team He is still in another dimension, even if they take him to the extreme.
It was about getting back to them, that finally the coin came out heads, but that at least that coin in the air existed on a home straight with opportunities. The first thing was to look the enemy in the eye, to clear any hint of a dread that never existed. Spain came out serious and somewhat gripped, but Ricky was there to take responsibility, to be the beginning and the end, forcing penetrations because it had to be done.
A little while to dream: 39-29
After Durant’s first boasting (10-17), the first Spanish revolution came. For starters, a couple of impossible baskets from Ricky, with the God-blessed grimace (11 points in a few minutes). And later, with the absolute impudence of a second unit in a vindictive plan. Spain let go of her hair in a few moments of pure reverie, a plug of Garuba Tatum and a couple of baskets of Llull to close the first act ahead (21-19).
And, later, fireworks in Saitama, the continuation was carried out by a couple who discover each other. Sergio Rodriguez, imperishable magic, and a Willy Hernangmez I found a button in the only chink of those of Popovich. A large and physical pvot dislodges them, in cruel contrast to the Gasols. Then Spain ran wild, sailing in wild waters, her playground. With Chacho’s triples, baskets, blocks and rebounds by Hernangmez -the absolute Spanish dominance of the rejections- and the silent presence of Claver, he managed to turn on all the American alarms (39-29). That little time, which later could not be corroborated at half-time (43-43, Spain did not strangely exhaust their fouls), with Durant’s lease, must already be among the treasures of this team.
The return of the changing room was a critical moment. The USA Team He lowered his heart rate, mimicked his circulation, adjusted his crosshairs, and tightened his defense. And Durant. Always Durant, the indefensible gamer. With Booker as an ally, a tough demarraje, a pimpampum of those who throw to the canvas, for which Spain could not find an antidote. Four consecutive triples, as many as in the entire first half, three of them from the Nets forward, shot the empire, thrown to the jugular (49-65).
No trace of the Gasols
It seemed that everything was disappearing, that Spain would not rise from the count. With Durant taking a breather, Ricky tried to escape the rush, with 14 points in the fourth, all from Spain except three from Willy, whose presence was soon positively noticed again. Chacho’s final triple (63-69) was a breath of oxygen before the final act.
But there was no way, despite Ricky’s brutal efforts, a genius against an entire empire. No longer a trace of the Gasols, with four little ones and Garuba, seeing the shore so close, so far, as in the previous ones.
This Spain has even earned the right to fail. Just as the circle is not closed with a metal around the neck. It was a rare tournament, with just the final blackout before the spell of Luka doncic in the first phase as a future death sentence. I remembered this epilogue to one of the opening chapters, 2004 at the OAKA in Athens, undoubtedly the Olympic moment of the selection, the most auspicious occasion of all. Everything else remains, the 11 medals in 15 years, the unforgettable battles, from each summer extra enjoyment.
It was Pau Gasol’s last dance and, despite everything, it was worth it.