Spain didn’t exactly bring the big show against Iceland but they got the win to set up a winner takes all game against Germany on Thursday
Well that was dreadful. Not Iceland, they were the usual zany delight to watch but their run around like madmen super small ball schtick wasn’t expected to cut the mustard against Spain. Instead the utterly loaded Spanish roster mad awfully hard work of this one.
The first half was forgettable for Spain’s defence as Iceland danced through at their leisure for easy scores. Despite holding a 20-16 lead after 10 minutes, Spain did little in the guts of the second quarter that indicated they wanted to bounce back from their loss to Italy 24 hours earlier. Indeed it was Iceland who brought the big game, briefly moving into a 34-30 lead before the Spanish finally rallied in the final minutes to take a lead into the break.
It was understandable that Spain didn’t want to over-exert themselves before the Germany game on Thursday but this kind of lacklustre play can backfire badly. Although they never looked in real danger of actually losing, bad habits stick and it’s not the type of display one wants to bring in to a legitimately important clash. At the half Spain were on top but they were hardly cruising.
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The resumption at least saw Spain stretch the lead quickly. Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic were doing all the heavy lifting, combining for 31 of Spain’s first 50 points but Spain really shouldn’t have needed the Chicago Bulls duo to exert themselves in this one. This was the game where the rest of Spain was supposed to issue a collective apology for letting him down a night earlier. Instead it was Gasol ensuring this wasn’t a contest by the mid-point of the tird. Iceland, no doubt, had their moments and that was a delight for their fans but Spain really shouldn’t have been giving them so many. By the time the final frame got under way it was well out of hand with Spain up 74-55.
It was a facile win in the end and the result is all that matters but while Germany will enter tomorrow’s clash exhausted, there’s a good chance Spain start it feeling sleepy after failing to catch fire at any stage in this one. Spain, aside from talent, naturally have a huge advantage by not having been forced through the ringer to quite the same degree as their opponents tomorrow. They will probably progress but if they do, tonight’s performance wasn’t what they needed before Lille.
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