Facing questions about their spotty play over the course of the tournament, Spain entered the single-elimination portion of the EuroBasket 2013 tournament with a forceful and dominant win over Serbia.
The game was never close. Spain held Serbia to only 5 points in the entire fourth quarter, and Spain was up by 25 at the end of the first half. It was brutal, it was dominant, and it was incessant.
In fact, it was so brutal that both teams had more or less given up by halfway through the 2nd quarter. Serbia’s resident star, Nenad Krstic, only played 13 minutes for the entire game, and only had 4 points on 4 shot attempts. In fact, almost all of Serbia’s bench logged more minutes than the starters (with the exception of Nemanja Nedovic): this game was more garbage time than it was real time.
It was over before it started.
Regarding minutes, the same can sort of be said for Spain: Marc Gasol played a good 13 minutes less than usual and Jose Calderon barely played at all, though Ricky Rubio saw pretty much his standard 20 minutes.
Non-NBA stars Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez really stole the show on offense, in part because they were given the reigns. This marks two impressive scoring runs in a row for Rodriguez, and he’s been looking more starting quality for this Spanish offense then their default Shooting Guard, Jose Calderon. Rodriguez had 22 points on 56% shooting, with 4 assists. Rudy Fernandez had 19 points on 6 of 9 shooting, hitting all 4 of his three pointers.
In a way, though, this game was won by Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Victor Claver, and Ricky Rubio in the first quarter. That incredibly stalwart group of defenders completely shut Serbia down, rendering Spain’s offense — and the rest of the game, really — irrelevant. After that group dominated that first half, the rest of the game was already won.
There honestly isn’t as much to talk about with this win: it was aggressively one-sided, and it was over early. What happened in the first quarter defined the whole game, and Spain was defined, again, mostly by their incredible defense.
It’s still a little funny that Spain continues to dominate when they win, but lose closely when they lose. Based on point differential, Spain should be the favorite heading into the Semi-Finals (which are to be played on Friday).
Now that we have entered the Single Elimination tournament, all winners progress to smaller and smaller brackets as the losers move on to consolation brackets for 5th-8th place. Serbia will now move to one of the consolation brackets, and Spain will play against one of the winners of the remaining three matches (Slovenia-France, Croatia-Ukraine, and Lithuania-Italy).
Here’s the box score for the game, and look out for the results of the Semi-Final on Friday!