Olympics

Brazil-Spain Preview

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Spain and Brazil are both headed to the Olympic quarterfinals. How difficult a road each will have to the podium remains to be seen.

With second place in Group B on the line, Spain looks to bounce back from a frustrating loss when it faces Brazil on Monday in London.

Considered the second-best team in the Olympic field behind the United States, Spain could end up facing the star-studded American squad earlier than expected after it blew an 18-point lead in a 77-74 loss to Russia on Saturday. The victory clinched the Group B title for the Russians and dropped Spain (3-1) into a tie with Brazil (3-1), which rolled to a 98-59 win over China later Saturday.

The winner of this contest will secure second place in the group but likely would have to face the Americans in the semifinals. The loser, meanwhile, will finish third and find itself on the other side of the quarterfinal bracket.

"When you come to a competition like this, you have to beat everybody to win," Brazil forward Anderson Varejao told fiba.com. "Our goal is to get to the final."

Brazil, which has not won a men's basketball medal since taking home the bronze at the 1964 Tokyo Games, has lost all six previous meetings with Spain. The teams last met twice at the 2002 world championships, and this is their first Olympic matchup since Spain won 101-100 during the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Though the Spaniards have dominated this series and are averaging 83.0 points in this tournament, the 2008 silver medalists must find a way to mentally rebound from Saturday's loss.

After overcoming a lackluster effort to beat winless Britain 79-78 on Thursday, Spain jumped out to a 20-2 lead over Russia and led by eight at halftime. However, the Spaniards were outscored 24-13 in the third quarter and could not survive a tight final quarter in their first Olympic loss to a non-American team since 2000.

"It's a 40-minute game and you can never relax, you've got to keep playing," said Spanish guard Jose Calderon, who was held to two points.

Pau Gasol scored 20 points but missed the first of two free throws with 5.2 seconds left as Spain trailed by two.

"We should have been able to hang on to (a big lead),'' said Gasol, averaging 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds during Olympic play. "We're leaving with a terrible sensation after this loss and now we have to take care of Brazil."

The Brazilians, who led China 25-9 after one quarter and rebounded from a 75-74 loss to Russia on Thursday, are excited about the challenge that awaits.

"We know it's an important game for us," said Varejao, averaging 8.2 points and 7.5 boards in the tournament. "Then we're going to start thinking about the quarterfinals, which is great."

Marquinhos Vieira scored 14 points and Leandro Barbosa added 13 Saturday for Brazil. Barbosa is averaging a team-high 13.0 points.

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