The United States defeated No.1 ranked Spain in an exhibition match by a score of 98-88. Yes, the main story is that the United States continues to prove itself, but for Grizz fans, it was the duel between Jaren Jackson Jr. and Santi Aldama.
For the US, Jackson Jr. scored 14 and grabbed five boards along with three blocks (all in the first half). Santi Aldama scored 14 points off the bench to lead Spain in scoring.
The two went at it at certain points with Jackson hitting a and-one layup over Aldama and both players trading buckets in a separate sequence.
The Spanish forward showed off the range in this game, knocking down two three-pointers. Aldama played aggressively in the paint as he made effective cuts to the paint and scored in the low post at times.
Santi has shown that he can be aggressive with the ball in his hands, but it is a matter of how Spain utilizes it whether he comes off the bench or not. Aldama is by far the best scorer on the Spain team, which is music to the ears of Grizzlies fans around the world.
Jackson Jr’s Game
What else is there to say?
I sound like a broken record when I say this, but Jaren Jackson Jr is that guy for Team USA. His leadership continues to show on this team as he is the defensive anchor and the protector of the rim.
The scoring was not completely there this game as it was done mostly by guard Jalen Brunson, but Jackson showed that he could hold his own at the center position.
He did have some moments in the game where rebounding was a battle, showing that there is room to improve. It worked out for them in the end, but if Jackson can improve on rebounding, the league just might have to box out in fear with him around.
What Memphis Can Take Away?
Memphis should continue to look at games like this as a sign to incorporate Aldama in the system with more minutes as he proves his abilities in all aspects. It is not easy to be one of the best players in one of the best countries at the young age of 22.
Aldama’s upside continues to show defensively and offensively as he showed his ability to make plays on and off the ball. As well as handling the ball versus certain defenders when the matchup is in his favor.
With Jackson, there is not much that the team does not already know. It is just a matter of how he can improve on the little things such as rebounding and foul trouble.
Although Jackson continues to shine in the pick and roll game whether it's cutting or popping at the three. It will just be a matter of how well we can see it despite the talent on Team USA as touches for Jackson have proven to be limited.
Team USA will look to stay undefeated on Friday as they will take on Greece, who will be without former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for the remainder of the World Cup.
Spain will look forward to their matchup Thursday versus Team Canada, where Santi Aldama will face off against former Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks for the first time.