Marquinhos clutched the ball and pounded his heart.
He showed the latter when seizing the former.
Pau Gasol missed a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left, and Marquinhos converted the game-winning putback with five seconds left in Brazil’s 66-65 win over Spain on Tuesday. Brazil and Spain battled to avoid an 0-2 start in men’s basketball group play at the Rio Olympics, but stunningly, it’s Spain – which won silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and was general expected to medal this year – that remains winless.
At least one of Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Lithuania and Croatia will be eliminated in group play. Barring a surprising run by Nigeria, it will be only one.
Spain – which has lost to Croatia and now Brazil — could be the odd team out.
Ricky Rubio, who fouled out with three points and no assists in 17 minutes, couldn’t get the Spaniards’ offense going. Brazil repeatedly went under on his pick-and-rolls, and Rubio’s lack of a jumper killed Spain’s spacing. That left Gasol – who led Spain with 13 points, but shot just 4-for-11 – too often forcing looks.
Spain fared much better with Sergio Rodriguez running the show. His play with Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Lull offers hope of an offensive turnaround.
But that won’t cover for Spain’s defensive and toughness issues. Marcelo Huertas (11 points, seven assists and no turnovers) put Gasol in enough pick-and-rolls to make Gasol’s head spin. Even when the Lakers guard missed on Brazil’s final possession, Marquinhos beat Nikola Mirotic to the rebound.
Not the finest day for the Bulls’ bigs of a season ago.
Nene (six points, five assists and four rebounds) kept the ball moving, and Augusto Lima (nine points and 10 rebounds) made several timely plays. The Brazilians lack Spain’s talent, but they hustled harder and earned a memorable upset in front of their home crowd.