Pau Gasol, at age 36, was once again the fulcrum of the Spanish international team.
In the Rio Olympics, he averaged a team-high 17 points and 8.7 rebounds a game coming into the semifinal Friday against the USA, where he had 23 points and was the only reliable scoring option for Spain (they were 8-of-26 from three, and a lot of those were uncontested looks).
After the game Gasol was understandably disappointed with the loss, saying he thought this is the best chance Spain has had to beat the USA and they fell short. As for his future, he was non-committal to Spain or even to a lengthy stay in the NBA. Here are his comments to the media, as translated by eurohoops.net.
“I always think it’s going to be my last year, both in the national team and in my NBA team. I love this sport and I love to continue playing at the highest level. The older I become the more complicated it will be for me to be back but I still play at a good level. I would be 40 years old in the next Olympic Games and I’ve been already many games for many years. During next season I’ll assess how I feel and if I will play with the national team or not. Things can change pretty quick.”
I have a feeling he’s going to feel pretty good, playing as part of the “we rest a lot” Gregg Popovich routine with the Spurs. He’s going to get wins, he’s going to get touches, and he’s not going to be overtaxed.
But that is different than wanting to go back and play for Spain again. Don’t be shocked if Pau says it’s Marc Gasol‘s turn to hold down the paint for the Spanish.
Serbia was ready for the stage — it played its best game of the Olympics.
Australia was not. Whether the moment was too big, or they were looking past a team they beat in pool play to a possible rematch with the USA, the Boomers came out flat-footed. And they couldn’t shoot — they hit just 4-of-31 from three.
The result was a blowout from the opening tip that Serbia won 87-61 to advance to the gold medal game and set up their own rematch with the Americans. Australia will go for its first-ever basketball medal Sunday in the bronze medal game against Spain.
Point guard Milos Teodosic led Serbia from the start — he scored six of their first 12 points and finished the night with 22 points and five assists. He is going to be a handful for the USA on Sunday, Teodosic gave them fits in group play. Stefan Markovic added 14 points for Serbia, while Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets had 11 rebounds.
For those that don’t remember, Serbia was the USA’s toughest game in group play — the Americans won by three, ut Sacramento-bound Bogdan Bogdanovic got a wide-open three to tie the game at the buzzer, but it rimmed out. The USA raced out to a 9-0 lead in that game and eventually led 23-5, but then got incredibly sloppy on both ends. Serbia outscored the USA 86-71 the rest of the way.
Serbia is playing better than they did in that game, and they are used to the big stage — they played the USA in the 2014 World Championship finals.
If the USA plays with the defensive focus they had against Spain they should be fine, but let up at all and Serbia can make them pay. In Silver.
Russell Westbrook posted this to Twitter, a little Lil Uzi Vert “Now I Do What I Want” sing along.
Maybe it’s his Friday mood.
Or, is it a little message to that guy headed West….
During the group play stage of the Rio Olympics, Carmelo Anthony passed LeBron James to become the all-time leading Olympics scorer in USA history.
LeBron, take another step back.
While racking up his 14 points against Spain in the semi-final game on Friday, Kevin Durant slid past LeBron into second place on the list. Durant leapfrogged LeBron in the first quarter.
Durant has averaged 19.1 points a game over his Olympic career. While Anthony is at the top of the USA list, Durant could pass him if KD plays in Tokyo in 2020. Then again, LeBron is talking about a possible USA swan song and he could retake his lead.
As long as the USA is winning gold, it’s all good. There’s no Cavaliers/Warriors thing when the USA is on the chest.
For all the talk of the trouble with Team USA it comes down to this: One more win and they get gold.
The USA played their best game of the Rio Olympics — finally showing some grit and more steady defense — in beating Spain 82-76 to advance to Sunday’s Gold Medal game.
You can see the key to the USA’s win in these highlights below: Klay Thompson was draining threes (22 points 4-of-8 from deep) and DeAndre Jordan just flat out owned the paint on both ends.