These two countries compose the deep second-tier below the United States that also includes, but may not be limited to, Argentina and Russia. No team is perfect and these teams certainly apply.
Brazil is too reliant on Marcelinho Huertas and Tiago Splitter hasn’t consistently dominated lesser opponents. Spain, playing without point guard prodigy Ricky Rubio, didn’t muster up their requisite defense intensity level in their 77-74 loss against Russia.
All in all, this match promises to be an interesting match with quite a storyline. Will Spain improve their play and show everyone why people predicted them to be USA’s strongest foe? Or will Brazil beat Spain, adding salt to an open, vulnerable wound?
Brazil will open the game with their usual starting lineup — Huertas manning the point, Leandro Barbosa, Marcus Vinicius, Anderson Varejao and Nene while Splitter and Alex Garcia will lead the Brazil’s bench.
Spain’s lineup consists of Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro, who may miss today’s game with a foot injury, Rudy Fernandez, Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol. Serge Ibaka, Sergio Rodriguez, Sergio Llull and Victor Claver remain one of the better benches in international play.
As for the game itself, expect Spain to put an extra focus on Huertas which should open up the paint for Nene, Splitter and Varejao to carve up ample space and hopefully capitalize offensively. On offense, Spain may try to pound it inside more as they’ll try to get one of Brazil’s trio of big men in foul trouble so they can alleviate the pressure for their talented guards. It may have the looks of close game till the end, but I believe Spain’s deep firepower, however depleted as they may be, will prove to be the difference.