With Marcelo Huertas guiding the way, the Brazilian National Team gave its home crowd an unforgettable performance, upsetting No. 2 Spain at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, 66-65.
“Marcelinho” was the conductor of Brazil’s offense, tallying 11 points and seven assists — both of which were team-highs.
The Laker also pitched in four rebounds, as ninth-ranked Brazil took a three-point halftime lead at Carioca Arena 1 before piling on with a 19-14 third quarter.
But Spain, which — like Brazil — lost its Olympic opener on Sunday, wasn’t about to roll over for the hosts.
Led by Pau Gasol, who finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, the Spaniards were able to cut Brazil’s lead to two with four minutes remaining. Yet Huertas had an answer ready, hitting a jumper in the paint on the next possession.
Still, Spain made its move from there. Gasol hit a pair of free throws and Sergio Llull splashed a 3-pointer before adding another foul shot to steal the lead at 65-63 with a minute left.
After Nene Hilario went 1-of-2 at the foul line, Huertas found himself with the ball on Brazil’s final possession.
He started the game 4-of-6 from the field but missed his last four shots, including the attempt to take the lead. Fortunately for the Brazilians, Marcus Vinicius de Souza — also known as “Marquinhos” — snuck past Nikola Mirotic for the offensive rebound and go-ahead tip-in with 5.5 seconds remaining.
Llull missed Spain’s final shot, giving Brazil its first victory in Rio.
While Huertas paved the way to victory, Vinicius scored 10 points and Augusto Lima added nine points and 10 rebounds.
On the other side, Gasol was clearly his team’s best player, but he struggled all game long, shooting just 4-of-11 from the field and a dismal 5-of-12 on free throws.
None of Gasol’s teammates were able to provide much assistance, including Huertas’ new teammate in Los Angeles, Jose Calderon, who made his Rio debut but played just 72 seconds and did not register a stat.
Brazil moves to 1-1 ahead of its meeting with Croatia on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. PT, while Spain shockingly falls to 0-2.
The reigning back-to-back Olympic silver medalists — who face Nigeria on Thursday at 3 p.m. — will potentially need to win their final three games of pool play simply to advance to the knockout stage.
The bottom two squads in the six-team Group B will be eliminated, and only Spain and Nigeria have yet to record a win.