I'll be honest: I haven't had a chance to watch this morning's game between Spain and China. I set my alarm, but only managed to stay awake for about five minutes before falling asleep again. I've always been one of those "early to bed, early to rise" types, so staying up past midnight (or sleeping in past 7 a.m.) is a struggle for yours truly.
But enough about my sleep patterns. The powerhouse that is the Spanish National Team took on Yao Ming at the Chinese in the second preliminary round. If you're still waiting to watch the game don't read on.
The Spaniards defeated the Chinese 85-75 in overtime after being down by 14 in the fourth quarter. Our boy Rudy Fernandez when buck wild, scoring 21 points on 50% shooting. He also grabbed eight boards, dished six assists, nabbed two steals and swatted a shot. That, my friends, is the definition of a yeoman effort.
The eight rebounds are especially impressive, considering that Carlos Boozer, the leading rebounder in the USA's victory against China, also had eight boards. Sure, Rudy had an overtime period to grab a few extra, but he's also not a 6-9 All-Star power forward. Bottom line is that against a rather large Chinese squad, Rudy boarded hard. The man loves to attack the rim, be it on offense or defense.
But don't take my word for it. Here's the folks at FIBA had to say.
Led by the incredible Rudy Fernandez and 17-year-old Ricky Rubio, the world champions fell behind by as many as 15 points in the second half but never quit fighting and were ultimately rewarded with their second win in Beijing.
The Chinese, beaten by the United States in their opener, are now 0-2.
Pau Gasol had 29 points to lead all scorers but it was the end-to-end intensity provided by a pair of players who led Spanish side DKV Joventut to Copa del Rey and ULEB Cup glory last season that won the game for the Spanish.
Fernandez, who is going to the NBA next season to play with the Portland Trail Blazers, had 21 points, eight assists and nine rebounds while Rubio only scored one point but was such a menace on defense that he sparked the comeback and also prevented the Chinese from getting off a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
Rubio finished with a game-high five steals while also dishing out four assists and grabbing four rebounds.
"It has been a very difficult game,” Fernandez said to FIBA.com, “especially in the first half.
“We didn't play the way we are used to playing. China have been very effective and in the third and fourth quarter, when we put pressure and we defended better, we posed more problems for them and that's when we started running and won the game. I thought China played a great game."
I'll post the highlight reel as soon as I can find it.
UPDATE: My main man Dave at Blazer's Edge has a great recap, as always.