Spain was unable to add its third victory in preparation for the World Cup against the United States (88-98) in the last match of the Centenary Championship of the Spanish Basketball Federation, which was held at the Martín Carpena Stadium in Malaga. The team found a dose of what awaits it in the World Cup finals, which will be held in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines during the period from August 25 to September 10. Despite the good feelings in a very close match until the end, the team still needs to raise the pace of the competition to retain the title it won in China in 2019.
The first quarter was very close, in an intense game from the start. Both teams wanted the meeting to serve as an introduction speech before the World Cup. Neither team had the option to get very far up the scoreboard in a very attacking game. Although Spain finished the first quarter ahead (28-26), the feeling was completely equal.
The same dynamic was maintained at the beginning of the second quarter. Until the Americans began to show more consistency in both areas. Success in shooting from outside at 66% in the first half, gave them the lead in a period when defense was more important. The phenomenal Jalen Brunson, with 16 points and no missed shots, gave the American team the momentum to take the lead. At the end of the second quarter, Willie missed a goal that would have narrowed the deficit and made two consecutive rebounds, one by Anthony Edwards and the other by Austin Reeves, which put the USA ahead by 10 points at halftime (45). -55).
Alex Abrenes appeared at the beginning of the third quarter with seven consecutive points to put Spain within one point. The match was friendly, but the team wanted to clarify intentions and increase the pace. Nunez's hat-trick earned a standing ovation from the court for the German Ulm point guard, who is in the starting lineup and has earned a spot on the team as the top backup to replace Ricky Rubio. Spain's defensive performance improved and it advanced, but the United States recovered in the final minutes to end the third quarter with a one-point lead (72-73).
Steve Kerr's men came out firing on all cylinders in the final quarter. The Americans did not want to leave anything behind and once again extended the lead on the scoreboard against Spain, which made many errors at goal. Edwards' goal on the fast break gave the USA an 11-point lead with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game. The team was looking to make a comeback, but the individual quality of the Americans, led by Brunson (23 points), gave them the win.
In Spain, the best were once again Santi Aldama and Hernánomez, who were joined by the impressive Núñez leading the team in attack, and Abrines. The team still has two more friendly matches to prepare before traveling to Jakarta, where they will play group stage matches in the World Cup. Canada (August 16) and the Dominican Republic (August 19) are the latest competitors to have reached the level of competition necessary to defend the title of world champions.
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