Two days ago, I wrote about how Spain looked listless in its loss to Slovenia, in which the backcourt rotation was highly abnormal, and it didn’t look like Spain was really trying — especially on defense.
Well, they made up for it today, with their 60-39 victory over the Czech Republic.
As much as I’d like to say differently, this was not really Marc Gasol’s game: it was Rudy Fernandez’s. Fernandez registered 14 points on 47% shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block; all team highs (other than Marc Gasol’s 10 rebounds). Gasol played inspired defense, as usual, and he seemed to have perked up quite a bit from the game against Slovenia, but his offense lagged while Fernandez’s soared.
To an extent, this was just a defensive game in general. No one on Spain shot greater than 50% other than Xavier Rey, who only played 9 minutes and only had 4 shots. Out of all 12 players, 1 person shot 50%. That’s an impressive feat for the defensive minded Czech team to impose on the usually very efficient Spanish squad.
On the other hand, the Czech republic only scored 39 points. Total. In the entire game. Jan Vesely led the Czechs in scoring with 7 points. 7 freaking points was the Czech Republic’s team high. NO ONE SCORED DOUBLE DIGITS.
Per the FIBA website, the Czechs are not typically pushovers, either. The team, so far, is 1-2, but they’ve averaged 67 PPG on almost 45% shooting prior to the game against Spain, which is pretty average-above average for the EuroBasket tournament. They also have, in fact, been recording an above average defense, too, so the stopping of Spain’s fluid offense was no fluke.
So, Spain took an average-above average offense and absolutely crushed it. The Czech Republic shot 24% today.
To an extent, we can credit Marc Gasol with a lot of the defensive success. Jan Vesely has bent defenses in a similar way to Gasol throughout the tournament, if not nearly so successfully. Gasol, though, saw to it that Vesely wouldn’t bend the Spanish defense at all. The Czechs floundered without their default pathway to getting players open.
On offense, too, Gasol was able to bend the Czech’s defense quite a bit. The Czech Republic was really aggressively packing the paint when Gasol got the ball in the post, but the result was a scramble for the CR’s defense when the ball got kicked back out to the perimeter. That said, the Czech’s recovered as well as anyone in their position could have hoped to.
This game could represent renewed hope for the Spanish squad. Their performance today was dominant, and if they can keep it up, they should be back on top of the EuroBasket tournament very soon.