Spain is showing signs of their usual self and are slowly showing what they are capable of. Last night they made Slovenia suffer their first defeat in the tournament, in a thrilling game which was decided at overtime.
It was Slovenia who started the game better and feeding Brezec down in the post they took a 17-13 lead. Spain managed to cut the difference with Navarro and Rubio, 20-18 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter belonged to Pau Gasol who, at last, reminded the LA Lakers star we all know while Navaror and Rudy Fernandez helped with their shots from the perimeter. With a total 25-15 run in the second quarter Spain went to the half time break holding a secure 43-35 lead.
At the beginning of the second half Spain got a double digit margin for the first time, 52-42. Basing their game on Felipe Reyes who was impressive at that period Spain increased their lead to 15, 62-47. All Slovenia could do was to cut the difference down to 13 before the end of the third quarter, 62-49.
Jure Zdovc gave an inspiring teamtalk and Slovenia was amazing with a 14-2 run in the beginning of the last quarter, 64-63. Spain reacted and with a small 4-0 run made it 68-63. With two Navarro and Rubio baskets Spain increased their lead, 74-68 with one minute to go. But Slovenia had not given up. With Dragic leading the way they cut the difference to the minimum, 75-74 and taking advantage of Spain's poor free throw percentages and an impressive follow up of Lorbek after a missed free throw of Slovenia with 1 second to go made it 78-78!
Spain got more serious in the overtime and taking advantage of their strong inside duo of Gasol and Reyes cruised past Slovenia 90-84 who were more concentrated to keeping the difference below the 11 points (to top the group in case of a triple tier between Spain, Slovenia and Serbia).
SPAIN 90-84 SLOVENIA
Spain: P. Gasol 13 (9 rebounds), Rudy 19, Rubio 9, Navarro 21, Reyes 17 (8 rebounds), Cabezas 11, Llull 6, M. Gasol 5,
Slovenia: Slokar, Lakovic 15, Udrih, Brezec 12, Smodis, Nachbar 14, Dragic 19 (6 steals), Jagodnik 8, D. Lorbek 4, Golemac 4, E. Lorbek 8 (10 rebounds)
Bostjan Nachbar: "It was a very good game, I think the best game so far here. I'm happy to see how we responded to Spain having a 10 point lead and credit also goes to our fans. I'm not happy with the result, but tomorrow is a new day. We will be playing now against Poland, Turkey and one more very strong team, so we need to get some rest and try to recover from today's loss."
Sergio Scariolo: I agree with Bostjan that it was a very good basketball match. It's one more step forward for us and I'm very happy that we keep improving. I used a shorter rotation today and we lost some energy in 4th quarter, some players were tired, and it had an effect physically and mentally. I am very happy with the overtime, players were very calm and found a way to win.
Jure Zdovc: Congratulations for coach Scariolo and Felipe, they deserved this win. They've played hard, they were stronger, faster than us. But I want to also congratulations my players for their fighting spirit. We weren't as fast with our rotations, as we were in previous two games and Spain were hitting some tough shots. With the support of our fans we were able to come back, but in the end we lost and it's only that matters.