Spain’s basketball team is on a roll in Rio. But their luck may have just run out.
After dropping their first two Olympic matchups, ostensibly torpedoing their medal hopes, Spain has won their last four games, earning a date with Team USA in the semifinals. Deemed the biggest threat to the United States through the last two Olympics, Spain looked to have shed that distinction early on. But given Team USA’s inconsistency, along with the bevy of close games to which they have been subject, Spain suddenly looks like the scariest-possible foe again.
Or maybe not.
Pau Gasol, who has easily been the MVP for Spain throughout this tournament, may be a no-go for the semifinals matchup with Team USA. As Spain’s coach Sergio Scariolo said, as translated by EuroHoops and relayed by CBS Sports:
“He is not well, I can not say for sure that he is going to play. We continue with his treatments and the truth is that we needed him right now. We hope his condition to evolve well and at least be ready to help as much as he can his teammates in the game. I can not say anything more right now”.
Chances are Gasol will play, which must make his new team, the San Antonio Spurs, feel really good about its two-year, $31.7 million investment in him right now.
In the grand scheme of things, it might not matter if Gasol does or doesn’t play. Team USA will be heavy favorites either way.
On the other hand, Spain doesn’t have a puncher’s chance in hell of upsetting the United States’ cast of NBA All-Stars without Gasol. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol aren’t with them this time around, and Gasol, with the exception of his dud against France in the quarterfinals, has been the team’s most consistent player by far.
For competition’s sake, you hope he plays. For the sake of his debut season with the Spurs, though, you also hope the 36-year-old exhausts all the necessary precautions, whatever that may entail—even if, ultimately, it entails not playing.