Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Day Angela Salvadores was the Best Basketball Player on Earth

About ten hours ago, this appeared in my Twitter feed:

I am not a women's college basketball coach scouting talent, or a member of any of these girl's families, or a weirdo who watches high school girls play basketball all the time. But I do have VERY severe attention problems and if you put something like this in front of me, I will probably flip it on for five minutes and wander away to some other thing to watch when the game stops being competitive or I get otherwise bored.

But I didn't get bored, because this game was awesome. I will describe what happened for you, since you almost certainly did not watch this awesome game. The United States Women's U17 team, a destructive monolith in this tournament who at once point held the entire nation of Mali to 21 points in a whole game, was obviously better than the Spanish team. They out-rebounded Spain 51-40. Center Lauren Cox outclassed the Spanish post players, notching 20 points and 12 rebounds. The United States' basketball talent pool is the deepest in the world and they SHOULD have routed their opponents.

BUT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IF ANYONE TOLD ANGELA SALVDORES, SHE REFUSED TO LISTEN. The star Spanish guard, number 8 on your scorecard but number 1 in the world, notched a tournament high 40 points on 29 shots, racked up 4 steals, dropped 4 dimes and netted 4 rebounds to push the United States to the brink of defeat. Spain scored 75 points in this game: Salvadores was directly or indirectly responsible for at least 64 Percent of her teams' scoring. It was a basketball act of indomitable will: she drove to the hoop over the US's centers, stealing the ball like it was candy, spotting up in the corner, stepbacks from midrange. She was a threat from everywhere, Michael Jordan in 1986, Iverson against the Lakers, putting everything into slaying a giant herself.  A natural basketball player with and unbelivable feel for the game, through and through.

It almost worked, too. Spain even had a lead late in the fourth! But with a minute to go Cox recovered a block on the fast break, and put it back in to take the final lead of the game. Spain even came close to crawling back: a three pointer from with enough time for another possession was waived off because of an illegal screen. Maybe kind of a dodgy illegal screen. No one would have called Kevin Garnett for it. USA holds off the best player on the floor and wins the Gold, 77-75.

Salvadores was named the tournament's most valuable player: here is a picture of how she felt about that:

A KILLER DENIED HER PREY. Your trinkets cannot heal the pain of losing, FIBA! A true competitor and a living legend at 17. Maybe she drive her daggers into the hearts of her enemies for years to come.

Tangent: this game featured a hilarious fast break little-on-big-block and mean-mug by one of the Spanish players. FIBA didn't include it in the highlight package because they hate fun and defense, apparently, but they might post the whole game on Youtube. If they do, I will find it and bring it to you because it is a true gift.

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