Though this game is being hyped as the showdown between Pau Gasol and the U.S., the Spanish national team isn’t completely reliant on their star 7-footer, even if he’s tallied 17.7 points per game thus far.
A month and a half ago, however (reportedly owing to internal politics in the federation that runs the team) Coach Pepu Hernandez was replaced by Aito Garcia Reneses.
Aito, as he is known, has a vastly different approach that wholly deemphasizes any single player’s role.
Thus, this squad focuses on playing team basketball, using all of these weapons: Jose Calderon, J.C. Navarro, Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio, Jorge Garbajosa, Pau and Marc Gasol. In their three wins so far, they’ve been led by three different scorers (Fernandez, Gasol, Calderon).
But the biggest question for Spain is not what they’re going to do with the rock. Instead, how can they try to keep the Americans from pouring points on them as they have done to their previous three opponents on the fast break?
By having five fresh players on the floor at all times, Spain hopes to be able to get back on defense and slow the American offense.
“With the short minutes,” explains Munoa, “everyone should be fresh. Lots of zone defense, with high intensity, and a lot of activity.”
The slower the game, the better it is for Spain. Can they slow Team USA down?
Source: True Hoop