Monday, September 19th, 2011 at 10:48 am  |  21 responses

Game Notes: Spain vs. France

Photos and a recap of the Eurobasket final.

by John Hobbs / Photos courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed

Spain won EuroBasket 2011, yet the 14,500 crowd inside the Zalgirio Arena in Kaunas were chanting “Lietuva, Lietuva” towards the end.

It was an indication that Spain had won the tournament, but the real winners were Lithuania—the spectacular hosts of one of the most unforgettable EuroBaskets in history played in a country where basketball is life.

It didn’t dampen the mood or the celebration for the Spanish, who beat France 98-85 in the final. Like their crushing win over Serbia in 2009, they saved their best performance for last.

France is one of the most talented squads in the world, so them making in the finals was no fluke at all. They had a star-studded team that included Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Nicholas Batum, Nando De Colo and a host of other players.

But Spain made them look ordinary. There isn’t really any other way to put it—they were a pure joy to watch.

The most fascinating part of it all is that out of the 28 NBA players that have been at EuroBasket this summer, the most valuable player was Juan Carlos Navarro, a man who earns his living playing for Regal FC Barcelona in Spain’s ACB.

Navarro led all scorers in the final with a sublime 27 points, further outlining his brilliance.

“Juan Carlos has had a great tournament, the last three games he has been outstanding,” Pau Gasol said of Navarro. Gasol has played with the EuroBasket 2011 MVP since he was 16 years old.

“This has been the best I’ve seen him [Navarro] play consistently for the last few games, and for the most crucial games of the championship.”

Spain coach Sergio Scariolo commented after their semi final win that Navarro was one of the true artists of basketball, and it was the third quarter in the finals where Navarro painted his final masterpiece. He led Spain to a double-digit lead and gave France little hope.

The big talking points though belonged in the second quarter. There were Spain’s Serge Ibaka’s blocked five shots in five minutes, along with an almost-horrific incident where Parker drove to the hoop and Rudy Fernandez literally pulled the San Antonio Spurs guard down by his neck, whilst in mid-air, forcing Parker to the floor, where he stayed for a while.

An unsportsmanlike foul was called. Parker, who led France on the night with 26 points, played on after a minute-or-so spent on the bench recovering.

“Rudy [Fernandez] I know didn’t mean it,” Parker said. “It was a hard foul, he prevented me from scoring. It’s basketball and I have no beef with Rudy.”

From that moment, the crowd inside the Zalgrio Arena was firmly behind France. When Batum stole the ball from Navarro and thundered home a one-hand slam, it felt like the host nation had just hit a buzzer-beater to win the game. Spain’s lead had shrunk to 46-41, and it felt as though Spain was losing control of the situation.

Pau then stepped to the floor, told his teammates to feed him the ball and let him do the rest. The result: back-to-back buckets giving Spain a 50-41 halftime advantage.

Then it was Navarro’s time to shine. A three from Pau and a dunk in traffic from Jose Calderon was the icing on the cake.

Click through the gallery above for photos of the Eurobasket final.

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  • http://www.acb.com A l a n

    This has been sweet :D

  • sonicproof

    Amazing. I’m happy for the Spanish team. Wish I would of seen some action on tv, here in the states.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    Belgium beat France like a year ago lol

  • Yann Blavec

    I have a question . If there is a lock-out who will play for the USA in the Olympics ?

  • the truth

    The same dudes bruh

  • D12FSU

    Olympic basketball and NBA ball are not associated

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Fantastic tournament, so glad i caught a ton of games even though i was in India when it started. Luckily made it back to Europe on time to watch the games on TV.
    A few observations:
    - Thus spanish team will beat any TeamUSA B-Squad next summer. They better bring their best to London.
    - Turkey was a disappointment. Felt out of synch and lackluster, yet they got hyped enough to beat Spain in the preliminary round. Strange showing this year.
    - Germany needs EU level guards to complement their frontcourt. Schaffartzik was one of the discoveries of Eurobasket.
    - Lithuania needs to go young fast. Kaukenas and Jasekivicius should not be playing in crunchtime crunchtime anymore imo.
    - Serbia underachieved even more than at last year’s world championships. Teodosic, the ‘best PG in Europe’ according to some, sure showed his best Iverson impression in LIT. I said it las WC in Turkey, and the fact remains the same: selfish & overrated. The way his teammates stopped hustling in the 4th qtr of the quarterfinals says it all. He’s lost their trust.
    And finally: Bo, Bo, Bo, Bo, oh my lord, Bo. (Goshdarnit, Stojanovski, it’s called an open layup. MAKEVIT, WILL YA? Way to sabotage your team’s bronze hopes)

  • fish sticks

    wait…The one thing i’m getting from this is calderon dunked in traffic?

  • http://bilibid.com deezndhaus

    which company is the sponsor of Team Spain’s uniform? does anyone know? that san miguel logo seems very familiar.

  • jandro

    @deezndhaus: “San Miguel” is an alcohol-free beer.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    HA! i laughed out loud when Calderon took the handoff and dunked it. (was wide open, fish sticks, he curled around Pau, and his defender got stuck)
    At that moment, it was game OVAH!

  • Loaf

    san miguel – Beer spanish beer in fact

  • Agent 87

    Beer but alcohol free, so basically it is not a beer.
    Turkey beat Spain but without Pau Gasol.

  • Rainman

    “a three from pau and a dunk in traffic from Jose Calderon”

    was that supposed to be the other way around, or am i just going crazy?

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    @Rainman: nope, that all happened.
    It was THAT kind of blowout (dont let the final result fool you, Spain kicked french booty…hard)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    @ Dark. My observations from the games I watched.
    - I was really up on Teodosic’s play at the beginning of the tournament. he was doing everything right. Amazing assists, scoring when he had to and running his team. He later got caught up in the hype and began making poor decisions and selfishly looking for his.
    - JCN, when he gets off, is unconscious. One of the few people that have a running three point shot in their arsenal. Seems like everytime he was left open, it was going in.
    - Batum kinda disappeared towards the end, but for some games he was tremendous. Too athletic, too long, too quick to defend. Like how they kept calling him Dr J.
    - Jasikeviscius is a basketball god in Europe but he was exposed a lot. Too slow on defense, poor decisions on passes that he used to make 5 years ago. Shut it down and let the youngins get some burn.
    - As much as it would be great to see Bo get some looks in the NBA, I think it would hurt him more than help him. I would hate to see him become a bench player when he should be a starting 2 guard. Respect.
    - Whatever happened to Schotsionitis (sp?) the chubby Greek center who was Clippers property and tore up USA few years ago in Japan. Greece took a few steps back in rebuilding but I see them and Italy coming back. They have a pretty good young class coming up.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Hi Nick:
    To be fair to Milos T. he had no backup later in the tournament when Alex Rasic and Markovic both got hurt (back problems for both, strange huh?),so he was prone to 10 turnover games. What i truly dislike about his game is his attitude out there and the fact that he hardly plays D. watch him, he’s never on his toes, always plants both feet and pretends to play intense man2man. That and the fact that he would look off an excellent shooter like Keselj in the fourth so he could force an NBA-three and miss badly.
    And Bjelica really took a huge step back this tournament, guess Coach Ivkovic doesn’t believe in point forwards.
    - I had the Bo-to-the-Nba discussion with my bball friends in Europe as we watched Eurobasket and most think that if he can snake his way to the hole AND finish in Euroleague etc (where they truly punish drives) he’ll do just fine in the L. Given the right system and amount of touches of course (76ers). Don’t forget, he can pass the ball quite well too, not just a chucker. Imagine he was passing off a double team to a cutting Iggy or Brand instead of the layup-missing Stojanovski (unforgiveable error late in that 3rd place game, shocking)

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    And i agree, Nic Batum was fantastic for most of Eurobasket, he even kept France in it in the earlier medal round games.
    A fact that Scariolo and his team knew and prepped for, never gave him room for that reliable outside shot he was using earlier in the tournament.
    (and JaskekiTOOTHius needs to stop hindering the growth of some young talent by clawing on to that PG spot in the Lithuanian team. He’s no longer effective against top teams)

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    I might be wrong, but i think Sofo retired from the Greek national team? He did have a very strong season with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Euroleague etc.

  • SanMiguel

    Just to confirm what sbd said above -and to correct which serveral guys did say-,
    San Miguel is the name of a very good beer (original from Spain) traded all around the globe…not very famous neither in the US or Australia, but getting high even in the small Chinese market for beer. One of the varieties of the beer, is a 0.0 % alc. beer: called “San Miguel 0.0″

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Did I read that right? Dunk by Calderon? Who knew…