Spain goes out against Latvia and will suffer to be in the quarterfinals
Spain went out. What was a fabulous start to the World Cup with signs of continuing to improve turns into absolute drama. Latvia and its inexhaustible energy punished (69-74) with a difference of 12 points in the final period against the least brilliant Spain in attack of the tournament. 21/53 in the launch, poor and insufficient success, as Scariolo warned of that danger in the previous hours. The Baltics, boosted by an atmosphere typical of other places in the world, found Zoriks in miracle mode in the finale and added to Bertans’ inspiration to knock down the favorite. An important stick.
The world number 1 was left without lights in a difficult moment. Against the most affordable rival – if that exists – in the second phase. 11-27 in the last quarter, hard hit on both sides of the court. Inspiration was lacking, beyond Garuba and a triple miracle from Brizuela, and Latvia found its game. The one with speed and impudence. One that drowned Spain. Very hard start
It was seen coming. Scariolo knew that the battle required starting concentration, and his first declaration of intentions was a starting quintet with Alberto Díaz, Llull and Claver. It caused more battle than success at the dawn of the clash, between a Latvia led by Smits as a problem solver and Spain finding Willy in the definition. That approach had a setback with two fouls by the Malaga point guard in five minutes and the team’s poor initial success (3/12 in the first quarter). That zero inspiration was not an anecdote, it became the common denominator.
That is, battle. Short score, 13 fouls in the first period and bleeding of free throws maintaining the balance, only broken by a final disconnection that Strautins finished and gave Latvia the fourth (16-17, 10′). That was the summary of Spain, disconnected in general. He only scored a basket in six and a half minutes of the second quarter, from Garuba by force, and Latvia found its style. Zagars and Bertans scored from the outside, in addition to equalizing the battle for the rebound (18-25, 16′). Issues.Scariolo had already advanced in advance what would happen. He stopped the game, brought back Llull and the Hernangómez, and Spain finally took the field. Energetic, fast and intelligent in stealing and transition. Juancho made the first triple of the game, Llull added three big counters after stealing (one included a triple from midfield that did not go up) and found Juancho in an alley-oop for a 9-0 that woke up the champion (27-25, 19′).
Latvia returns to the fray and the best Spain arrives
Although he still conceded another gift under his own score to Rodions Kurucs, he knew how to accelerate until the break (32-29) certified with a triple by Brizuela. He also contained a new Latvian momentum on the restart. He caught Spain off center and in the blink of an eye, Bertans and Rodions Kurucs had created a 0-8 partial (32-37, 12′). But the triples from Claver and Alberto Díaz closed the wound, the rebound was balanced and Willy, despite not having his personal day (2/5 at halftime), got oil under the boards (43-42, 15′). With the first critical situation saved, Spain based its team on the warriors. Claver, imperial in the third, and Garuba stole balls. Brizuela and Rudy executed from the outside. The captain did not stop there and immediately afterwards a foul was invented in Bertans’ attack that Garuba, after a 2+1 by sheer force, and Brizuela, on the counter, did even better.
Rudy himself, on the day he earned his 254 caps, had definitely given Spain a boost with a basketball lesson. And although they called three free throws, quite debatable, on Bertans, he finally gave Spain confidence in Jakarta (58-47, 30′). Latvia causes a heart attack ending
Of course, Latvia remained combative. They don’t change their way of being. She went out to the last quarter pushing. Grazulis executed from outside and Bertans, leading, invented a mid-distance shot and a great 2+1. And when Spain finally woke up with Juancho’s verticality, Zoriks appeared in the game. Two triples, contested and almost impossible, equalized everything (61-61, 35′).
Latvia was flying. Zoriks, a full-time tightrope walker, put the Baltics ahead with a spectacular middle distance. And although Abrines equalized from personal, Bertans hit a triple. Abrines and Rudy left theirs, and Rodions Kurucs made a spectacular reverse that left the team on the ropes (65-70, 29′). In attack, especially. After a review stoppage, Abrines and Rudy read perfectly on defense, but Garuba couldn’t find a ring. Latvia picked up the rebound and Grazulis only made a free throw. Even more difficult. Brizuela managed to prevent the rope from breaking with a triple miracle, on the edge of the knife.
Rudy made a quick foul and life continued because Zoriks missed one of the free throws. But Brizuela, trying for the umpteenth time, couldn’t find a way to the rim. Kurucs got the rebound and the foul killed the game (69-74). What was a ticket to Manila becomes an absolutely extreme situation, with Spain and Latvia tied 3-1 in the table and the national team’s match against Canada, one of the favorites.