As Spain romped a previously undefeated Lithuania 109-59, they reminded everyone why they entered the Rio Olympics as a medal favorite. This is the Spain many people expected to see at the Rio Olympics. The one that is the reigning back-to-back silver medalist. The one whose combination of size and skill is only rivaled by the United States.
They got out to a roaring start and had built a formidable 26-11 lead by the end of a first quarter; a lead that wouldn't see double digits for the rest of the game. It was a crucial win for Spain that put them in the top four of Group B and allowed them to control their own destiny. If they had lost, they would have had to win in their next game and hope for a Brazilian loss; instead they must just beat Argentina on Monday to ensure a trip to the knockout round.
They were captained by a cooly efficient Pau Gasol, who scored 23 points on nine shots, adding five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Nikola Mirotic had a solid showing with 17 points and three rebounds, a great sign as Spain will have to count on Mirotic to play well over the next week to make the Rio podium.
It also affirmed their ability to play with some of the top teams in Rio, as they had struggled against even the most middling competition so far at these Olympics.
Jonas Valanciunas was mostly absent, as way Domantas Sabonis, in the matchup. The pair combined for five points, though they did collect 15 rebounds between the two.
The result was mostly a nonfactor for Lithuania was they could not clinch the top spot in Group B with a win, assuming Croatia handles a winless Nigerian team in the nightcap. Lithuania will play Croatia in the group phase finale on Monday night.
A win in that game will decide who wins the Group B, and, possibly more importantly, avoid being placed in the same side of the bracket as the United States.