Heading into the 2016 Olympic men’s basketball tournament, Spain was touted as the foremost national squad who could upset TEAM USA in no less than the gold-medal match. But now, it seems the Spaniards may not even make it to the quarter-final round.
Only the top four teams per group move on to the next stage of the tournament. As it currently stands, Spain sit fifth in Group B after losing its first two assignments.
The Spaniards were forced to watch the Croats celebrate as if they won a medal after their thrilling opening day clash on Sunday. In the dying seconds of the game, Croatia led 72-70. Pau Gasol had one last chance to send the game into overtime, but Dario Saric wasn’t going to let that happen. Saric blocked Gasol’s turn-around jump hook much to the delight of the Croatian bench.
“(The fans) saw how we fight every minute of the game, they saw how we play with the heart, how we are young, how we got energy, how we are hungry and I think they recognize this they start to support us,” said Saric in a post-game interview, via USA Today. “(The block) was a gift for (the) whole team. I think it’s like that block was like cherry on the cake, because the team fight the whole time.”
Spain suffered another demoralizing defeat on Tuesday, at the hands of host country Brazil. The game was a close albeit low-scoring affair. Brazil edged out Spain 66-65. It was dynamic point guard Marcelinho Huertas who came up big for Brazil. He tallied 11 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds, as per FIBA.com.
Pau Gasol and company need to make good of their last remaining games to avoid a humiliating early-round exit. Spain’s next opponent is Nigeria. The 2015 AfroBasket champion is dead last in Group B, following loses to Argentina and Lithuania. Spain vs Nigeria tips off Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Rio de Janeiro local time, FIBA.com reported.