China played gamely against one of the 2012 Olympic favorites in men's basketball. But the talented NBA veterans of Spain held off the largely non-NBA Chinese for a 97-81 victory to open Olympic group play.
Pau Gasol's 21 points and 11 rebounds paced the Spaniards in both categories. He and Serge Ibaka (17 points, five boards) made up for the third member of the formidable Spanish front line, Marc Gasol, netting just five points and five assists while struggling with foul trouble. Spain also got 14 points from Juan Carlos Navarro and 12 from Jose Calderon, flashing balance that makes them the best challenger to Team USA, the presumptive favorite in London.
Yi Jianlian, the only current NBA player on China's roster, had a massive 30-point, 13-rebound double-double, but the Chinese fell behind in the second quarter and never made up ground as the game went on.