Spain’s national coach sees Usman Garuba as extraordinary defender

·2 min read

Sergio Scariolo, head coach of Spain’s national men’s basketball team, sees an “extraordinary defender” in second-year Houston Rockets forward Usman Garuba. Scariolo commented after his side defeated Lithuania in overtime, 102-94 (box score), to qualify for the final eight at the European Basketball Championship (EuroBasket 2022).

Garuba had 8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 22 minutes, and the 20-year-old’s offensive rebound and tip-in during the final minute of regulation helped Spain extend Saturday’s game to overtime, where they eventually pulled away to win.

In postgame comments, Scariolo was eager to discuss the strong and versatile defense from his 6-foot-8 forward. Here’s what he said, as relayed by Miguel Lois Vidal (and translated by Twitter):

Our idea was that Lorenzo [Brown] would lead the team in attack, and Usman in defense. He is an extraordinary defender. He can change everything. He has a big heart.

He makes mistakes, of course, he is very young, but we trust him a lot.

Spain was +14 in Garuba’s 22 minutes on Saturday. See below for extended highlights of the game versus Lithuania.

Going forward, Garuba and Spain will match up against Finland in Tuesday’s round of eight games, with tipoff set for 10:15 a.m. Central. That game can be streamed live via RocketsWatch.

Elsewhere at this weekend’s EuroBasket action, Alperen Sengun and Turkey saw their run end with an 87-86 loss (box score) to France. Sengun had 8 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Later this month, both prospects will report to training camp in Houston to begin the 2022-23 NBA season. Garuba missed much of his rookie year due to injuries, but a strong showing at EuroBasket may help him build momentum as he looks to earn playing time.

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire