BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain gained some useful pointers as to how they might overcome the United States if they meet at the London Olympics despite Tuesday’s drubbing at the hands of the 2008 gold medallists, coach Sergio Scariolo said.
Led by towering forwards Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka, the Spanish surged into a nine-point lead in the first quarter at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi but were unable to maintain their early intensity and slipped to a 100-78 defeat.
The height of Gasol and Ibaka troubled the Americans, who beat Spain in the final in Beijing four years ago and have lost some of their big men to injury, and when Marc Gasol, Pau’s slightly taller brother, returns from injury, they will be even more of a threat, Scariolo said.
“We were able to maintain parity at the start but later started to lose too many balls,” the Italian told a news conference.
“But it was a very useful match in every sense and we have an idea of what we shouldn’t do and what we should be doing better,” he added.
“We have created a good base to go into the Games and we have gathered a lot of information.”
Scariolo said Spain would be better prepared if they came up against the U.S. again in London and noted that as well as Marc Gasol, who has a left shoulder problem, there were several other players who were still working towards peak fitness.
He praised the U.S. performance, which came after an erratic display against Argentina on Sunday in Barcelona, when they scraped to an 86-80 success.
“They are way the best team in the world, there is no question about this,” Scariolo said.
”They are extremely versatile and athletic, dangerous either attacking the ring or shooting from outside.
”You can talk for hours about whether they are big or small but they are overall a great team.
“Of course tonight we didn’t have Marc and we couldn’t really exploit our inside game.”
U.S. forward Carmelo Anthony, who scored a game-high 27 points, said he expected a stiffer test from the Spanish if they met again in London and highlighted the potential threat of a fit-again Marc Gasol.
“They will have Marc back so he makes it a lot more difficult,” Anthony told a news conference.
“Another big body and another great passer, he makes everybody around him better,” he added.
“I‘m sure they’ll learn from this game. It’ll be much harder next time in London.”
Editing by John O'Brien