Photo: Brazil vs China
Brazil pummeled China 98-59 in Olympic men’s basketball Saturday and will next square off against Spain for second place in Group B.
The Brazilians learned a lesson from their tight game Tuesday against unheralded Britain - when a lack of concentration nearly cost the team dearly - and came out determined not to give the Chinese any opening, grabbing a 25-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
An inability by the Chinese to hit mid- and long-range jumpers and a poor performance by their top player, Yi Jianlian, eased the path for the Brazilians, who stretched their lead to 42-21 at the half.
China opted for a zone to start the third quarter but were unable to make a dent in the lead even though Brazil’s coach, Ruben Magnano, played his second unit for large stretches.
For the game, Yi - a member of the Dallas Mavericks and China’s only NBA player - ended up with just five points as Zhu Fangyu paced the Asian squad with 13 points.
Brazil had five players in double figures and were led by Marcus Vinicius with 14 points and Leandro Barbosa of the NBA Indiana Pacers and Guilherme Giovannoni with 13 points each.
Russia won Group B after edging Brazil 75-74 on Thursday and Spain earlier Saturday 77-74.
The winner of Monday’s game between Spain and Brazil, therefore, will claim second place and a likely position on the same side of the draw as the United States - the heavy tournament favorite - in the knockout phase.
Even so, Magnano vowed that his team will go all out against Spain.
“We fought hard to get to the Olympic Games. Now we’re going out to win. It’ll be a very good game (against Spain) and we’re not thinking about avoiding being second. We’ll play to win,” the coach said.
Brazilian center Tiago Splitter noted that whichever team finishes second in Group B will have to win a quarterfinal game before a hypothetical showdown with the Americans and therefore it “would be stupid” to look ahead to the knockout phase.