Spain passes its last test before the Pre-Olympic Games

Victory by 84-74 of Scariolo’s pupils against Dominican Republic


The Spanish men’s basketball team won this Friday 84-74 against the Dominican Republic, with a key contribution from point guard Lorenzo Brown in the last game of Sergio Scariolo’s pupils before their Pre-Olympic Tournament, which will be held in Valencia on 2 to July 7 on the field of the Fuente de San Luis Pavilion.

On identical dates, the Caribbean team will face the same challenge in Piraeus (Greece), seeking to crystallize in Paris (France) the dream of competing in the Olympic Games for the first time in its history. Of course, they will fight in that event without Karl-Anthony Towns, power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and without Al Horford, center for the Boston Celtics.

Chris Duarte, the Sacramento Kings’ shooting guard and the standard-bearer for his team in the first half of this friendly at the Pedro Ferrándiz Pavilion (Alicante), is in the Dominican squad. Lorenzo Brown returned to wear the Spanish jersey, almost two years after his great performance in the Eurobasket that ‘La Familia’ won.

Both Duarte for the visitors and Brown for the home team took the lead from the start. In fact, a three-pointer from the naturalized Spanish point guard briefly prevented the Dominican Republic from increasing its lead (9-10), in a first quarter where Néstor ‘Ché’ García’s pupils ‘rubbered’ the scoreboard.

After going six points down (16-22), Rudy Fernández brought Spain closer again with a triple (23-24) that sealed the opening quarter. The attacking breakthrough of Víctor Liz and Jean Montero, under the direction of Andrés Feliz, gave the Caribbeans a small lead (26-31). However, Scariolo rotated the bench and Spain improved somewhat.

A triple scored by Santi Aldama and later another by Darío Brizuela kept ‘La Familia’ hooked on their opponent, who slacked off a couple of actions in the low post against the impetus of Jaime Pradilla and Usman Garuba. Once the comeback was complete (35-33), the young point guard Sergio de Larrea entered the scene, thus making his debut with the absolute team.

Invited a few days ago to complete Scariolo’s training sessions, De Larrea scored his first two points with ‘La Familia’ senior team after an illegal block by an opponent. But then he got his revenge in style, with a triple from the front executing a ‘step back’ and at the final buzzer of the second period, putting the score at 43-38.

After the break, Feliz and Montero combined well on several occasions to prevent Spain from pulling away, having neutralised another Brown triple (50-43). The ups and downs of the match foreshadowed another overtime, like the one that took place last Tuesday during the previous friendly against the Italian national team at the WiZink Center in Madrid.

However, the choral distribution of offensive tasks and the greater intensity in defence led to the score going from 50-53 to 63-57 with which the third quarter ended, including a three-pointer by Rudy Fernández at the buzzer. The veteran Real Madrid shooting guard, on the verge of retiring as a professional, was more involved than anyone else.

His brave character in defense, which has so many times given the Madrid club nights of glory, worked for his teammates to take flight against a Dominican Republic with fewer rotations. The fatigue of their key players came to light at the beginning of the fourth and final period, where Spain achieved advantages of +11 (71-60, 73-62).

Point guard Alberto Díaz joined the good Spanish version, with a basket from a distance, and Rudy did the same with another triple for his personal baggage. So the threat in attack was no longer only the performance of Garuba, who enjoyed more minutes than the brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangómez, clearly measured by Scariolo.

The fear of the Italian coach, just four days before the Pre-Olympic starts, is that one of his pupils will get injured. And there was a scare in the final minutes of this match, due to a blow that Xabi López-Arostegui received on the nose after fighting for a rebound; Despite everything, the Valencia Basket forward recovered immediately.

In the final stages, the Dominican Republic tried without luck to close the gap in the electronics of Pedro Ferrándiz who vibrated with the local victory. There will be no more tests on the horizon for ‘The Family’ before next July 2, when the Pre-Olympic Championship raises its curtain with a duel against the Lebanon team.


–RESULT: SPAIN, 84 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, 74 (43-38, at halftime).


SPAIN: Brown (14), Llull (5), Lopez-Arostegui (2), J. Hernangómez (6) and W. Hernangómez (6) –starting five–; Brizuela (8), Diaz (6), Rudy Fernandez (9), Garuba (7), Aldama (7), Parra (5), Pradilla (2) and De Larrea (7).

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Feliz (5), Duarte (27), Henríquez (5), Núñez (8) and Santos (4) –starting quintet–; De León (-), Peña (1), Polanco (-), J.Montero (13), Liz (5) and Vargas (6).

–PARTIALS: 23-24, 20-14, 20-19 and 21-17.

–REFEREES: Padrós, Castillo and Zamorano. No eliminations.

–PAVILION: Pedro Ferrándiz from Alicante.

–INCIDENTS: Before starting the match, a minute of silence was observed for the recent death of José Ramón Ramos, former player among other teams of Estudiantes and Real Madrid.