Spain Retains European Crown

18.09.2011

EUROBASKET 2011

Turning Point: When France looked like they would possibly enjoy a renaissance during the third quarter by launching a comeback, Juan Carlos Navarro delivered a couple of dagger threes to keep them at arm's length.

Game Heroes: There were plenty of contenders and not least Juan Carlos Navarro who led the way with 27 points. Backcourt partner Jose Calderon was impressive too, as was Pau Gasol who had yet another double-double. Meanwhile Serge Ibaka managed to produce another great came,o after claiming a stunning five blocked shots in a devastating five minute spell - arguably one of the most impressive stats of the entire tournament.

Stats Don't Lie: France needed to find the defence to stop the vast array of Spanish weapons but gave up exactly 25 points in each of the first three quarters which was just too much.

Juan Carlos Navarro (Spain)
Spain captain Juan Carlos Navarro was in no mood to relinquish the crown - he led his team to the final triumph with 27 points

 

By Paul Nilsen

Spain successfully defended their EuroBasket title with another powerful and memorable display in the Final against France.

Having been dominant two years ago in Katowice against Serbia, Sergio Scariolo and his players cruised to the top of the podium once more to deny France an historic first title.

They simply had too much offensively for France and once they moved 13 points in front, early in the third quarter, they never seriously looked like relinquishing their title as they rode out comfortable 98-85 winners.

The opening quarter started at a frantic pace, with Joakim Noah not wasting any time in trying to send out an early message as he threw down two dunks to put France 8-7 ahead.

Spain then began to make some shots with Jose Calderon scoring five quick-fire points and when the lead was extended to 17-12, France coach Vincent Collet called time-out.

The teams then indulged in a real shootout as it started raining three-balls with four in succession, as Spain protected their advantage at 25-20 at the end of the opening quarter.

They then streaked nine points ahead and briefly threatened to make a potentially decisive break as they gave France a big test of their title credentials.

Back-to-back threes by Mikael Gelabale and the ever dangerous Tony Parker limited the damage but the respite was only temporary.

Serge Ibaka was thrilling fans with his defensive plays and with two monstrous blocks already to his name, a third rejection paved the way for Pau Gasol to dunk his team to their first double-figure lead, at 36-26.

José Calderón (Spain), Tony Parker (France)
'I told you so' - José Calderón is probably explaining to Tony Parker, who had a fantastic game, that  Spain possess more weaponry

Straight out of a subsequent time-out, France were repelled by Ibaka twice more as he took his tally of blocked shots to five and they were most definitely on the ropes although certainly not on the canvas.

Well, except for Parker who was unceremoniously and quite literally pulled down to the floor by Rudy Fernandez, who was called for an unsportsmanlike foul. For a moment things threatened to get ugly as Spain fumbled for the self-destruct button.

The antics of Fernandez unsettled the rhythm of his team and fired up France who posted a 7-0 run with Nicolas Batum making a shot from downtown and then throwing down an explosive dunk to make it a five point game.

But, Spain managed to regain their composure and as both teams made their way to the locker rooms, they were 50-41 ahead.

The contest was still very much peppered with bad-tempered flashpoints after the interval, but there was little change in the score-line as Pau Gasol flushed a dunk to keep his team out comfortably in front at 60-49.

France then rallied with five points in a hurry but, once again, Juan Carlos Navarro continued to maintain his team's cushion with some big shots.



When Spain started the final quarter with a flourish, a fairy-tale finish for France never looked like materialising.

As the minutes ticked down, the Spanish players revelled in their dominance and started the fiesta early, entertaining the huge crowd with some party basketball as they cruised to gold.


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