But then the game very quickly became the Leandro Barbosa show.
The NBA star hit a pair of free throws and then stunned Spain with back-to-back three-pointers that gave Brazil a 75-73 advantage.
Pau Gasol's lay-up levelled but Brazil kept coming with Barbosa hitting two more free throws and Larry Taylor sinking a jump-shot.
Pau Gasol went to the line again but could only split his throws.
When Barbosa hit another jump-shot the lead was 82-76 with two minutes to go.
Spain could not stop the onslaught, and Tiago Splitter gave Brazil an 88-79 lead with five seconds left to cap it.
Sergio Llull hit a three-pointer on the buzzer for Spain, but it will be of little consolation to a team with high expectations but struggling to live up to their demanding standards so far.