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September 24, 2017

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Spain, Russia and Brazil rely on NBA stars

LONDON -- Spain and Russia relied on their NBA stars Tuesday to stay perfect in the men's Olympic basketball tournament.

Pau Gasol scored 20 points to lead Spain to a 82-70 victory over Australia, while Russia got 16 points from Andrei Kirilenko in a 73-54 win over China.

Russia and Spain are 2-0 in Group B.

Brazil beat Britain 67-62 in an unexpectedly close game, getting 21 points from Tiago Splitter, another NBA player with San Antonio.

In Group A, Lithuania cruised to a 72-53 victory over Olympic newcomer Nigeria.

Rudy Fernandez added 17 points for Spain, silver medalists at the Beijing Games after losing in the final to the United States.

The Spaniards have several NBA players on their roster, including Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), his brother Marc (Memphis Grizzlies) and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder).

"We got off to a slow start but we picked it up in the second and in the third we were able to break it open and open a big lead," Pau Gasol said. "Against better teams, we'll have to start better, but we are a team that likes to build, we play better as the tournament gets longer."

Some expect Spain to challenge the United States for the gold again — and that includes Australia coach Brett Brown, an American.

"They have a legitimate chance of knocking the United States," he said.

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