Great Britain-Spain Preview
Spain is among the favorites to end up on the medal stand, but it hasn't been as dominant as expected in its first two Olympic contests despite a strong contingent of NBA talent.
Facing the Games' host nation with its best player battling an injury might finally bring out the best in the Spaniards.
Spain seems unlikely to have much trouble Thursday against winless Britain, which hopes Luol Deng can recover from a rough effort while dealing with a sore wrist.
Coming in as one of the favorites in Group B after taking the silver medal in Beijing, Spain struggled at times in a 97-81 win over China on Sunday and an 82-70 victory over Australia on Tuesday.
Pau Gasol scored 21 points against the Chinese and 20 versus the Australians, helping Spain (2-0) pull away down the stretch. However, for a team that pushed the United States to the limit in the 2008 gold-medal game and has six NBA players on the roster, the Spaniards have yet to win in the overpowering fashion many thought they would.
Rudy Fernandez scored 17 points Tuesday for Spain, which may hindered by the absence of guard Juan-Carlos Navarro, who's nursing foot and back injuries.
"He couldn't play today and we don't know exactly when he's going to be able to play," Gasol said on fiba.com. "It's not the easiest situation to go through for an athlete in an Olympics."
Serge Ibaka, who had 17 points and three blocks Sunday before adding eight points Tuesday, seemed optimistic Spain will continue improving.
"Good win in our second game. Better feeling as a team each day. More on Thursday!," he wrote on his Twitter account.
Deng, dealing with a left wrist injury that may eventually require surgery, shot 3 for 13 from the field and 4 for 8 from the free-throw line Tuesday, scoring 12 points in Britain's 67-62 loss.
"Never stop no matter how much it hurts, every moment is a learning experience. I will be better tomorrow. #NeverDown," Deng wrote about his injury on Twitter.
Britain (0-2), competing in its first Olympics since also being the host nation in 1948, will look to avenge an 86-69 defeat to Spain in Eurobasket competition Sept. 2.
Pau Gasol scored 21 points while brother Marc added 18 for Spain in that game. Deng had 17 points and Daniel Clark chipped in 14 for Britain.
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