2012 Olympics: Pau Gasol keys Spanish attack in 82-70 win over Australia
After Australia jumped out to a 19-14 lead in the first quarter, Spain exhibited full control of the game, outscoring the Boomers by 17 points in the final three quarters. The impetus for their performance stemmed from the nature of their offense; Spanish was keyed by excellent interior passing and perimeter shooting, choosing from an array of sources en route to a 82-70 victory in their second preliminary game in Pool B.
The Australian’s maintained their early lead despite the early foul troubles of Patty Mills, who exited with as many points as he had fouls (two). Joe Ingles was tasked with creating points in his absence — whether that be through slashing to the lane or finding his teammates in transition — and Australia finished the quarter shooting at a 64% clip after missing nine of their first 11 attempts. Spain, conversely, made a mere third of their 2-point field goals and had yet to convert a shot from the perimeter.
The dogged Spanish defense eventually whittled away at the nominally effective Australian offense. The active Boomers offense become more supine and naturally a lot easier to defend. Pau Gasol was at the head of the attack — when he wasn’t scoring from his traditional slot in the low block, he was running the floor deftly in transition and kicking out to open 3-point shooters. The Spaniards parlayed a five-point deficit into a comfortable five point lead at the half.
The game opened up in the third quarter, keyed by an early 8-0 Spanish run. The gumption of the Spanish offense led to a multitude of easy shots and thus, Australia attempted to combat their attack with traditional defense, zone and full-court looks.
The efficacy of the Spanish offense allowed them to shift and utilize the zone to jump start their perimeter attack. Rudy Fernandez, who crashed into the stands at the end of the half, finished with 11 points in the quarter alone. Australia scored 10 points in the third quarter and struggled to manufacture anything of significance — especially Patty Mills who went scoreless in the period. (Mills finished with 11 points.)
Sans a late rally from a Boomers lineup consisting of role players in the fourth quarter, Spain had little problem in dictating the pace and finding easy looks from the perimeter. Full-court defense, along with carelessness from the Spanish ball handlers, allowed Australia to cut the lead to 10 points. Of course, the rally couldn’t offset two consecutive quarters of poor basketball.
Australia will enter their third preliminary game against China having lost two consecutive games to Brazil and Spain. Every game will be of utmost importance, especially their final game against Russia on Aug. 6, to a squad that hopes to vault into the knockout stages, where they could potentially make a run at a medal.