HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In a competition filled with exquisite guard play, Spain got the most consistently brilliant effort from one of the world’s best in Juan Carlos Navarro on its way to repeat gold at EuroBasket 2011.
Navarro’s 27 points lifted Spain past France Sunday in Lithuania, punctuating their tournament-long dominance with a 98-85 win over Tony Parker and his crew.
Navarro’s perimeter game was complemented perfectly by the inside presence of Pau Gasol and his younger brother Marc Gasol, who took turns carrying the load for Spain throughout the competition. But it was Navarro’s relentlessness that marked Spain’s run throughout this tournament and throughout Sunday’s title game.
In a matchup with another one of the world’s most dynamic scoring guards in Parker, Navarro proved up to the task, as did his stellar ensemble cast. Pau Gasol had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Marc Gasol added 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists. Navarro’s backcourt mate Jose Calderon finished with 17 points of his own. Serge Ibaka blocked five shots in his 21 minutes, showing during a five-minute stretch of the second quarter as Spain built a 10-point advantage that would not be surrendered.
Parker’s Supporting cast wasn’t nearly as potent in this contest. Boris Diaw had 12 points , Joakim Noah had 11 and eight rebounds and Nicolas Batum finished with 10 points.
Navarro’s 27-point showing in the final came after he dropped 35 on Macedonia in the semifinals. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the competition as Spain became the first team to repeat as EuroBasket champs since Yugoslavia in 1997. Parker, Pau Gasol, Russia’s Andrei Kirilenko and Macedonia’s Bo McCalebb joined Navarro on the All-Tournament team.
It’s a righteous fab five, and the exact same one the HT crew (NBA.com’s John Schuhmann served as my partner in basketball crime throughout EuroBasket and the FIBA Americas championship) would have selected.
Russia beat Macedonia 72-68 in the bronze medal game earlier Sunday. All four teams, along with the fifth-place Lithuania and sixth-place Greece guaranteed that they will be in action against next July. Spain and France earned automatic bids to the London Olympics by making the gold medal game. The third through sixth-place finishers will all continue their pursuit of Olympic invitations at a qualifying tournament before the games begin in July 2012.
|Field for 2012 Olympics|
|Field for 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament|