Spain 75, Australia 69
Serge Ibaka was back in action again today, this time against the up and coming Australian national team in Granada, Spain. Though Ibaka didn't get an opportunity to showcase his shooting skills, his defensive prowess was in full effect, as he didn't allow the Australians many baskets near the rim.
That's one thing I think that isn't very quantifiable about him. His defensive intimidation factor. Sure, some players will go up against him directly anyway, but there are a couple of times where I saw an Australian guard consider venturing into the paint, stopping, and passing it off simply because of Ibaka's presence. He wouldn't necessarily be in the guard's way, but he'd always be there, threatening.
Of course, the quantifiable parts of his game were on display as well. With Spain down by a few points in the third, he came into the game and immediately blocked a direct challenge from Mark Worthington near the hoop. The block was immediately rebounded, and Juan Carlos Navarro got a quick fast break bucket. The next possession in the final seconds of the third quarter saw Serge Ibaka stand on the block. Navarro ran down the lane, saw him wide open, and gave him the ball for an easy dunk. The dunk drew a foul, and Ibaka completed the And 1 play. This left Spain up by 1 going into the fourth.
In the fourth, along with providing Spain more intimidation in the paint, Ibaka stopped the 6'10" Aron Baynes from scoring right next to the basket twice in a row without fouling him. After Spain fell behind a little bit, he grabbed a lob from Navarro in mid-air and put it in to tie the game at 62. Through a few inside plays from Felipe Reyes and Pau Gasol, Spain was able to comfortably cruise to victory.
Overall, Australia played a good game. They don't really have a post presence, thanks to the absence of Andrew Bogut and Nathan Jawai, but they have a nice offensive system. Since most of their scoring comes from guards and outside play, one might classify it as run and gun. But they don't really run the floor, except on fast breaks. They tend to use their teams excellent passing ability to get clear opportunities in the post, and their big men's shooting ability to get open shots on the perimeter. David Andersen was a huge swoon for them, scoring some essential points in the third and fourth. Also, you can forget Patty Mills, who works well in fast break situations.
But when you get right down to it, Australia doesn't have the talent that Spain does, even with Marc Gasol sitting on the bench. (I don't think Gasol is injured, but he may have been resting.) They didn't have a go to guy when it counted, and their offense really stalled out in the fourth, when Spain could just go to guys like Felipe Reyes and Pau Gasol in the post.
Spain's Next Game: Versus Argentina at Coruna, Spain. Friday, July 20th, 4:15 PM Central Daylight Time.