SAITAMA, Japan — The United States men’s basketball team has gotten off to a tense start in its Olympic quarterfinal game on Tuesday afternoon against Spain.
At the half, the game was deadlocked, 43-43.
The Americans have tried to stay in the game with their shooting, but their jumpers have not been falling. They are shooting just 38 percent from the field, have gone just 4 for 17 from 3-point range, and have simply looked disjointed on offense. Kevin Durant is leading the team with 12 points.
Spain, bigger and better drilled, has used its size to its advantage. They are winning the rebounding battle, 29-18, and have cashed in on multiple second chance opportunities. Ricky Rubio was the early instigator for Spain’s offense, scoring 13 of the team’s first 17 points in the first quarter before taking a seat.
The winner will face either Australia or Argentina in the semifinal round. The loser goes home.
Spain, as the No. 2-ranked team in the world, was expected provide a stiff test for the Americans, who are ranked No. 1 but have produced a string of shaky performances in the last month.
After two exhibition losses before the start of the Games, the United States started its Olympic campaign with a loss to France. The Americans mostly cruised through their next two contests — against far weaker opponents, Iran and the Czech Republic — and had some time to establish some rhythm as a group.