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Tokyo 2021 Olympics: Ricky Rubio dislodges Argentina and puts Spain in the quarterfinals | Olympic Games 2021

Campazzo tries to stop Ricky Rubio during the match between Spain and Argentina.
Campazzo tries to stop Ricky Rubio during the match between Spain and Argentina.KIYOSHI OTA / EFE

The Spanish team won a place to play the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games on the same stage, the Saitama Super Arena, and against the same rival, Argentina, as in the legendary semifinal that propelled it to its first great gold, the of the 2006 World Cup. The game was absolutely different, this time dominated by Spain with authority (81-71). The drama did not happen like then because the situation was very different of course, but also because Ricky Rubio assumed command and the Spanish squad flew over a rival that was fading.

Pau Gasol was able to contemplate the end relaxed from the bench because his task was already concluded, not like in that semifinal 15 years ago when he was injured in one of the last actions and had to go to the bench with tears and knowing that he would not be able to play one of the most important finals in the history of Spanish basketball.

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Ricky Rubio was about to quit the Games. Worn out by a difficult season and sportingly ungrateful for the unexpected team change, his eventual return to Minnesota and disappointing results. At the last minute, he asked Scariolo for permission to sign up for Tokyo and once he’s gotten into the job he is showing that he is the leader of the national team. It was already in the 2019 World Cup that Spain won in China, precisely after also defeating Argentina in the final, and the one who was elected MVP. But in the NBA he does not quite get the credit that he earns hard in each of his campaigns with the national team.

His match against Argentina was illustrative of his ability to take the reins of the team in moments of greatest difficulty. The fluttering and pecking of Laprovittola and Campazzo shook the Spanish defense. The points of the two Argentine bases tormented the Spanish team that also started very badly in attack, with many turnovers and Marc Gasol with such bad feelings that he asked for the change, a break to take a breath. Ricky’s ignition changed from 3-12 to 16-15. He had to go to the locker room to plug a wound after receiving a blow. When he returned, the Spanish team went into limpet mode. His defense suffocated the Argentine attack. Once the shooting positions of Laprovittola and Campazzo were neutralized, Argentina accused the lack of alternatives.

The result of the second quarter was revealing: 20-9. The team led by Sergio Hernández ended up with a very angry face, overwhelmed by events, palpably out of the loop. Ricky finished with 26 points – his scoring record in the national team – 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Llull, with 10 points, and Pau Gasol, with 8 points and 8 rebounds, accompanied him. Despite the victory, the national team missed a better version of Marc Gasol, who finished with two points and eight lost balls, as well as Garuba and Abalde. Spain will close the group stage against Slovenia on Sunday (10.30am CET), a long-awaited duel as they will probably face Luka Doncic and Ricky Rubio in a direct duel. Spain will play the quarterfinals on August 3.

Spain, 81; Argentina, 71

Spain: Ricky Rubio (26), Rudy Fernández (8), Abalde (0), Claver (9), Marc Gasol (2) -starting team-; Pau Gasol (9), Sergio Rodríguez (6), Willy Hernangómez (8), Garuba (0), Abrines (3) and Llull (10).

Argentina: Campazzo (10), Laprovittola (27), Garino (0), Delia (2), Scola (13) -starting team-; Brussino (8), Bolmaro (2), Caffaro (0), Deck (2, Vildoza (5) Vaulet (2) and Gallizi (0).

Partial: 20-25,20-9, 21-19 and 20-18.

Referees: Locatelli, Zuparovic and Bermúdez. They signaled a technical foul on Vildoza.

Saitama Super Arena. Second day of group C.

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