The Spanish Olympic Basketball team is thought to be the one team that can give Team USA a decent game at these Olympics, but they are not off to a good start. Spain melted down in the fourth quarter and especially in the final minute as they lost their opener to Croatia 72-70 on Sunday. Spain scored only 16 points in the fourth quarter and Pau Gasol’s attempt to tie the game a the buzzer was blocked by Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bogdan Bogdanovich led Croatia with 28 points, hitting three three-pointers on eight attempts. He was a first round draft pick of the Phoenix Suns in 2014 but now plays for the Brooklyn Nets.
At 1:37 with Spain clinging to a 67-65 lead, Darko Planinic tied the game on a layup and then Krunoslav Simon stole the inbounds pass and layed it in for a 69-67 lead. They increased that lead to 71-67 with two made free throws by Simon with 17 seconds left but Spain’s Nikola Miritic of the Chicago Bulls hit a three to cut the lead to one at 71-70. After a quick foul and one missed free throw from Saric, Spain had one last shot, but Gasol went up and Saric made up for his free throw miss with a beautiful block.
Spain, the two time defending silver medalists, now will have an uphill climb to get to the medal round. They will face host country Brazil on Tuesday afternoon. Littered with current and former NBA players such as Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Jose Calderon and also Mitic and Gasol, Spain was supposed to be poised to perhaps finally win the gold medal this time around. But they did not show they are a serious contender against Croatia, instead they looked like a team getting too old to compete. If Spain doesn’t offer some resistance, it appears Team USA will cruise to an easy gold medal win once again.