Redux World Cup: Spain and Argentina face off in Saitama – Tokyo 2020 Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament

TOKYO (Japan) – As Spain and Argentina rev the engines and prepare for Thursday’s Group C showdown at the Olympics, it’s worth remembering that these two great hoop nations often meet when the stakes are at stake. are the highest.

Argentina’s Luis Scola and Spain’s Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez all played in the memorable 2006 FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup Semi-Final at this very Super Saitama Arena. Spain survived that encounter, 75-74, and two days later beat Greece to claim their first world title.

Argentina and Spain once again traded blows in a crucial World Cup clash, this time in the final two years ago in China. Spain secured a 95-75 triumph.

Rubio had one of the finest moments of his career as FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2019 MVP

Neither team has much room for error on Thursday as they aim for the Tokyo Olympics quarter-finals.

Slovenia annihilated Argentina in their opening match, 118-100, on Monday. Sergio Hernandez’s side must therefore beat Spain if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top two, which would ensure they qualify for the quarter-finals. The top two third-placed teams from the three groups will also advance to the knockout stage.

Spain, meanwhile, overcame Japan in their opener, an 88-77 triumph that wasn’t as emphatic as the world champions had hoped. A win for Spain will see them through to the quarter-finals. A loss to Spain on Thursday would leave them and Argentina 1-1 and still with some work to do to reach the elite Olympic eight.

“It will be a match between two good teams, with a competitive tradition and a very healthy but at the same time very lively rivalry,” said Spanish coach Sergio Scariolo. “Obviously we have a difficult task, a team (Argentina) with very talented players, with a certain international experience that plays in a system that has been consolidated for a long time and that has an important rhythm to play against. smartly.

“It’s true that we also like to play at a fast pace but at the same time we have to be very smart and choose the right time to pick up the pace and slow down.”

“WE HAVE LOST OUR ESSENCE, OUR DNA, WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. BUT WE HAVE TIME, WE CAN RECOVER IT.”– Argentinian coach Sergio Hernandez

Argentina failed to control the pace in their first game. They came up against a Slovenian buzzsaw led by Luka Doncic that neither team has solved this summer. Doncic had 48 points – the most ever by a European player at the Olympics.

Argentina couldn’t stop him. Doncic was so dominant in every aspect of his game that he finished with a dizzying +49 efficiency, which is unprecedented in international basketball.

The South Americans never controlled the tempo or pace of the game.

“We are not playing well,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “We have lost our essence, our DNA, what we have always been. But we have time, we can recover it. We must not fall into the same madness. We must be more precise and orderly, have a balance without lose momentum.”

A head-to-head that is sure to capture the imagination will pit Spain point guard Ricky Rubio, who had 20 points and nine assists in the win over Japan, against Argentina point guard Facundo Campazzo.

Rubio was China’s World Cup MVP while Campazzo could have earned a spot in the All-Star Five had Argentina won the final. Both play in the NBA. Both are dazzling.

“We have to get back to ourselves, do what we do well: attack from our defence, play with our pace and in attack, pass the ball more to become a headache for rivals again,” said Campazzo, who has statistically had a good performance. game against Slovenia. He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. “We have to trust each other.”

It will be a fascinating game.

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The encounter will feature three big international names in basketball with Spaniards Pau Gasol and Fernandez and Argentina’s Scola playing in their fifth Olympic Games.

Gasol is third on the all-time Olympic scorers chart while Scola is fourth.

Will Spain blast the game like they did in the World Cup final, and like Slovenia did against Argentina on Monday when they took the lead with no less than 30 points? Or will Argentina discover much better form and claim a victory they simply must have?

“I’m sure they will be hurt from losing the first game like they lost it and that will make them doubly dangerous,” said another of Spain’s star goalkeepers, Sergio Llull.

“We will have to be very focused from the first second, play a very serious and complete game, being clear about what we have to do. Having options to get that second win is very important for us too.”

FIBA

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