Spain survived a spirited effort by China to win their first game of pool play 97-81 Sunday. Spain comes into these Olympics ranked 2nd in the world in hoops and considered to be the biggest threat to knock of the U.S.
Spain was led by Pau Gasol who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists and Serge Ibaka who scored 17 points off the bench to go with five rebounds and three blocks.
China who was a heavy underdog coming into the game would not go away because of a great game from Yi Jianlian who scored 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting to go with 12 rebounds.
Spain, who is not known for their defense, allowed 51.6 percent shooting by the Chinese but made up for it shooting 57.1 percent from the field themselves including 11-for-19 from 3-point land.
Jose Calderon had the hot hand early making three early 3-pointers and would finish with 12 points in the game.
China of course no longer features Yao Ming but they did have another legendary Chinese center dawn the court in Wang Zhizhi who had one of those “throwback Wang” games scoring 15 points while stepping out and knocking down a pair of treys.
Spain was not necessarily at their best in the game turning the ball over an unnecessarily 13 times against a mediocre Chinese defense.
Spain will have to play better to ensure winning the rest of their games in pool play and getting the top seed so as to avoid the United States until a potential gold medal game.
Spain will play Australia next on Tuesday and then against Great Britain Thursday.