Spain has been Team USA’s biggest international rival for over a decade. The two teams played in gold medal games in 2008 and 2012, and after Team USA was knocked out of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Spain went on to win the tournament and earn the title of world champion. In what will likely be the final Olympic contest for key Spanish stars Pau and Marc Gasol, Spain took one last shot at its longtime nemesis in the quarterfinals.
They gave Team USA all they could handle. In the first half, Spain led by as many as 11 points. But ultimately, Team USA’s shotmaking was too powerful for them to handle. Kevin Durant led the way for Team USA with 29 points as the Americans overcame that deficit to win, 95-81. They managed to do so despite a legendary game from Ricky Rubio, who scored 38 points in the loss.
Spain has now been knocked out of the tournament. Team USA awaits the winner of Argentina vs. Australia to learn who their semifinal opponents will be. If they win that game, they will face France, Slovenia or Italy in the gold medal game. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Team USA victory.
1. An all-time Olympic duel
Ricky Rubio is primarily known for his deficiencies as a scorer in the NBA. He isn’t a slouch. He’s averaged 11 points per game in his career, but that is the lone weakness in his otherwise stellar skill set. If Rubio were a better shooter, he might be an NBA All-Star. In the FIBA game, he’s certainly played like one.