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Team USA Shows Improvement Against Spain, Winning 83-76

Definite progress in this one, especially in the second half

Spain v United States
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18: Jayson Tatum #10 of the USA Men’s National Team during the game during the game against the Spain Men’s National Team on July 18, 2021 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

We’ve talked a lot about some of the issues Team USA has faced but Sunday night showed some definite improvement as the Yanks took out Spain 83-76.

We don’t know for sure what to expect from Spain this cycle, but it’s a mature basketball culture so Spain, as Jon Scheyer said this spring, is going to show up.

They still have the Gasol brothers - Pau and Marc - Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez and Willy and Juan Hermangomez, who both play in the NBA.

So that’s a pretty solid base even if it’s aging. Pau Gasol is 40, his brother is 36, as is Fernandez, and Rubio, the one-time teen prodigy, is now 30.

Our guess is they’ll be dangerous but somewhat limited by age.

Sunday night, Team USA finally started to figure out how to move the ball and if they can continue that, it’ll be a huge help going forward. Because while we can point to age for teams like Spain and perhaps some others, many of our competitors in Europe, as well as Argentina, Brazil and Australia, move the ball beautifully. And if you do that, you can get away with being 40.

Jerami Grant is out of Covid protocol and played in this one which was great to see.

And while we weren't sure about Keldon Johnson being added to the team, looks like he was an inspired choice: the 6-7 Kentucky product played very well in his first game and on short notice, shooting 7-9 and scoring 15.

Afterwards, US coach Gregg Popovich said “Our pace was better offensively. I thought we got in a little bit of mud and their physicality set us back on our heels a little bit in the second quarter. But the pace improved in the third quarter so we were able to get the ball up the court a little quicker. Shared it better. And thusly, we ended up with more open shots.”

That’s it for exhibition games so it’s on to Tokyo now. And we’re looking forward to Jrue Holiday joining the team. He’ll bring another element of toughness and defense that our guys can use.