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Spain reign on Puerto Rico to claim spot in next round
GUANGZHOU (China) - Off the heels of their epic comeback win over Iran, Puerto Rico flirted with another historic victory before the class and quality of Spain separated a true contender from the aspirational islanders with a 73-63 win.
Indeed, the basketball-mad Puerto Rico led La Roja by four after the first 10 minutes and only trailed by one at intermission. Spain ruled the third quarter 21-10 to push the lead to double digits but another Puerto Rican push cut the lead to six with 1:50 to go. No upset on this night as Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol scored the last four points to close it out.
Turning Point: Definitely the third quarter (21-10) where Spain stepped up their defensive pressure and leveraged a 12 point margin that would see them through to the win.
TCL Player of the Game: Marc Gasol. Spain's center of attention led all scorers with 19 points, and pulled down 7 rebounds to go with 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Stats Don't Lie: Spain shot a dreadful 13 percent (4 of 30!) from beyond the arc, which helped Puerto Rico stay in the game.
Bottom Line: It wasn't a great performance for Spain but it was a solid win that will take them to the second round. Even with the loss, Puerto Rico showed they can run with anyone. They just can't rely on a miracle comeback to do it every time. They will have the chance to book their Second Round ticket in a direct showdown with Tunisia.
They Said: "It was a good challenge. We reacted defensively and raised our level of physicality even though we struggled to make shots. I’m sure the next game we will make more shots. You have to stay patient, execute, not overreact to missing shots and continue to rebound, play defense and share the ball." - Spain center Marc Gasol
"They were aggressive with high intensity. The guys had a tough time against their aggressiveness. The first quarter was a bit soft from us. We got better and the third quarter was very solid. We struggled with our three-point shot the whole game and this makes it difficult for our fluidity. Fortunately, we didn't get nervous. There was frustration but not enough for us to lose our composure and desire to win the game." - Spain coach Sergio Scariolo
"It was a competitive game. I thought we had it but in the third quarter we had a letdown. They went to Marc Gasol, who is a great player. We have a big game coming up. We know it’s a must win game but we have to prepare and have that defensive mindset, rebound and play the game the right way. If we do those three things we will get the W." - Puerto Rico shooting guard Gian Clavell
"We are pleased that we competed. We had an opportunity to win. We made mistakes with passing at the end. But we are getting better every day. Spain identified the mismatch and did a lot of damage in the paint. We are looking forward to Tunisia; it is a game of life and death for us." - Puerto Rico head coach Eddie Casiano