In the battle to not have to face Team USA in the semi-finals, a Leandro Barbosa-led comeback in the fourth quarter helped Brazil (4-1) clinch the second seed over Spain (3-2) in Group B on Monday. By losing this game Spain now has hold of the third seed in Group B, putting them in the opposite bracket of the Americans.
Whether it was intentional or not, Spain lost the lead against a fired up Brazil squad after leading by nine points going into the fourth quarter. At the 4:15 mark in the final quarter of play, Barbosa hit a crucial three to put the Brazilians up 75-73. After Spanish big man Pau Gasol finished a dunk to knot the game at 75, Barbosa got to the line with under four minutes to go to put his team up two.
Brazil never looked back after that point and held on to win 88-82 to finish with a 4-1 mark in Group B preliminary play. Brazil was down in the game from the very beginning, and went into the second quarter down nine points. Brazil never went down more than that in the first half, and crawled back in the second quarter to reduce Spain’s lead to six points going into halftime.
The Brazilians slipped up a bit in the third quarter, going down by double digits with four minutes to go. After going down by 10 again to start the fourth quarter, Brazil went on a 18-6 run to take their first lead of the game. Barbosa scored the final eight points of Brazil’s 18-point run and also recorded 12 points between the 5:30 and 2:11 mark in the fourth quarter.
Barbosa finished with 23 points in 27 minutes of playing, shooting a solid 61.5 percent from the field, a perfect 2-2 from three-point land and 83.3 percent from the free throw line. Cleveland Cavaliers power forward played well on defense again, stealing the ball twice and seven rebounds (five offensive). Varejao also scored seven points on 3-7 shooting from the field.
The Spanish big men carried the team for Brazil, as Pau, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka accounted for 59 of Spain’s 82 points. They shot a staggering 74.2 percent from the field in a losing effort, and the Gasol brothers also made 80 percent of their free throw attempts. Spain didn’t really receive much help on offense or defense other than from the production that the big men provided, as the Gasols made up for 45 of the 52 points that the Spanish started roster scored.
Brazil will begin quarterfinal play against Group A opponent Argentina (3-2) on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Australia, Spain and Russia join Brazil as part of Group B teams advancing to the quarterfinals and the United States, France and Lithuania were the other teams to advance from Group A.
- Australia (3-2) beat previously unbeaten Russia (4-1) 82-80 on their way to the quarterfinals. Australia got out to a fast start and took a 10-4 lead over the Russians with just over three minutes played in the first quarter. Alexey Shved and Timothy Mosgov accounted for nine of 16 points the Russians scored after that to end the first ten minutes, but a furious shooting effort by Australia extended their lead to nine points. The Aussies shot the ball quick and often, but only converted on 41.9 percent of their field goals. Joe Ingles and Patrick Mills continued their good play for Australia, scoring 20 and 13 points respectively. NBAers Andrei Kirilenko each had 13 points in the loss.
- Great Britain (1-4) ended their losing ways against a defeated China (0-5) squad with their final game in front of their home crowd in London. GBR outplayed China all game long in a lopsided 90-58 victory. A poor all-around shooting effort (36.5 percent from the field, 26.7 percent from three and 61.5 percent from the free throw line) and a huge turnover problem (15 turnovers) was just the beginning for the problems that China had against Great Britain. An even scoring effort from the British and a bench that scored 49 points helped to secure their first win of the Olympic tournament. Great Britain was stuck in a tough group, but they were resilient in front of their fans and gave it all they could. Besides a 31-point loss against the Australians and a 20-point beating by the Russians, they lost against Spain by one point and Brazil by five.