The Family has once again written its name in gold letters in the history of national team basketball. In a surprising and unexpected group triumph at the height of the World Cup bagged in 2019, the national team led by Sergio Scariolo left Europe with its mouth open. Nobody gave Spain a favorite over Nikola Jokic’s Serbia, Luka Doncic’s Slovenia, Antetokounmpo’s Greece, Lithuania or even France. That’s how it reflected the ‘power ranking’ of the Eurobasketwhere Spain was seventh in the pools, just behind hosts Germany.. However, and here is the key to victory, no team demonstrated the unwavering faith, the ability to overcome, the resistance, the courage, the choral harmony, the winning mentality or the determination of Spain. The heart of the National Team in difficult moments was enormous and never stopped pumping.
The national coach, Sergio Scariolo, explained it just after collecting the European gold: “It is easy to say that we are very happy. We came to this tournament seventh in the ranking and we have climbed step by step. We have left behind incredible teams, including an incredible France, full of NBA and Euroleague players, of the highest level”. In addition, the coach slipped how the great favorites fell before their time: “The rest of the countries in this Eurobasket they have been incredible seeing the final ranking and seeing so many good teams being down. We talked about this at the beginning of the tournament, we didn’t have anyone among the “favorites” for MVP and we had to put someone there, among the top 15 teams. And there we have had Willy, he has led us.”
Spain has a winning gene that has made it rise to the top in Berlin. she explained it the official Twitter of the Eurobasket: “Basketball is a simple game. Ten men chase the ball for 40 minutes and in the end, Spain always wins“What this generation has done, in line with the previous one, is one more episode of sporting greatness. Getting to this moment of national euphoria has cost an awful lot. It is no coincidence that the Spanish players vindicated themselves as the rounds progressed and especially after the final.”Nobody believed!”ex-Real Madrid player and current Houston Rockets player Usman Garuba shouted in an Instagram post. others like Juancho Hernangomez They were more forceful on Twitter: “SOMOOOOOOOOSSSS CHAMPEEONESSSS DE EUROOOPAAAAAAAAA JODERRRRR!!! The ship is full“. Two examples suffice to express the feeling of a human group that broke all barriers as the tournament progressed and to which the smile of the champion was drawn more and more on his face. Impossible to doubt them again.
The blow of reality that changed the National Team
The loss in the group stage against an affordable team like Belgium set off alarms at the right time. There were no false excuses, but self-criticism and work to alter Spain’s inertia in the tournament. “We can be a good team, but today we definitely weren’t. We lacked fuel in defence, in deflections, in pressing the ball… We’ve always been behind them and made serious mistakes at the end of possession that have punished. We have to be humble again, knowing in what conditions we can be competitive. Today has been very poor in terms of effort. But we are aware of it. Maybe it was a good reality check if we use it correctlybut this is not the reality of our team”, Scariolo said after the game. And boy, was it.
The harsh corrective did not lead to catastrophe, but to break the glass ceiling of Spain. After beating Montenegro, it was the turn of Turkey’s NBA players Cedi Osman, Furkan Korkmaz and Alperen Sengun. Spain’s response was forceful. Concentration, character, talent and defensive strength. The National Team won the fight for rebounds despite fielding a quintet shorter than the Turkish for quite some time. For the first time on a key day, Lorenzo Brown left details of his leadership and direction with Spain and Willy Hernagómez pulled the scoring car. The National Team greased up, went down to the mud and signed the pass to the round of 16, where Lithuania was waiting.
An incredible comeback
In preparation for the Eurobasket, Scariolo’s team had lost the two games they had played against them. There was no better touchstone to check to what extent Spain was serious. A minimum selection, without the great figures of yesteryear such as Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Sergio Llull or Chacho Rodríguez was going to be measured against a great team. It was not easy at all and it was necessary to go into extra time to discern the winner, but Spain showed a winning mentality that left Lithuania on the canvas. It didn’t matter that the National Team came into the break behind on the scoreboard or that an inopportune tapping after the comeback forced such an extension. The collective reaction Rudy Fernández acting as hierarch, Garuba raising the defensive level and Brown beating Spainneutralized Lithuanian talent.
In the quarterfinals, Spain had already complied with what was required. From here everything was an extra. The rival was panicking because they had an NBA like Lauri Markkanen who had just pulverized Croatia with 43 points and, to make matters worse, the opponent had a scoring percentage from the line of three that took away the hiccups. Sergio Scariolo was not lying when he assured that the match against Finland was the one that “had cost him the most preparation” with your technicians. “They drive you crazy, they make you dizzy and they end up scoring a triple at the end of possession after running like a headless chicken.” The threat was not only embodied by Markkanen, but also old acquaintances of the Spanish fans such as Salin or Koponen. The ticket to the semifinals was in danger for many minutes and Spain lost 15 points.
Alberto Díaz, the example of Spanish identity
It was then that Spain pulled out the claw and clung to the Eurobasket to never let go. It took a leader’s anger from Rudy Fernández, as Scariolo would explain after knocking down Finland in a brilliant comeback: “When I was listening to him, I just thought: ‘It’s happening’. I have not had to raise my voice even a decibelI only had to say four things that I had to say for defense and attack. The emotional impact had already been made by him“. A couple of minutes after the talk, Spain had already turned the scoreboard, where Rudy’s five recoveries and two triples (for a total of 11 points) seemed fundamental.
Already among the top four in the tournament and with the medal at the gates, Spain became unstoppable and immortal. Dennis Schröder’s Germany generated respect for having one of the great Eurobasket players and because they were the hosts, with all the pressure that this entails for the referees and the support of the Berlin public. The road to rest was tortuous, but Alberto Díaz would change the final. The unexpected hero of this Selection gave a legendary defensive display to nullify Schörder and decapitate Germany. With him on track, +25. Without him, -20. Schroder, Teutonic threat and author of 30 points, he was paralyzed and was burned by the red-haired fire of the malacitano.
The Spain National Team, with a great offensive performance by Lorenzo Brown and Willy Hernangómez as top scorers, landed in the final in Berlin with silver assured and a dream trip. Sergio Scariolo’s team had the end in front of them: beat France in a final… that they didn’t count on; as Rudy Fernández would recognize in the previous one. “We are really looking forward to facing a match that we never thought about when this championship started”. The Spanish coach, for his part, left a paradigmatic phrase: “I’m thinking about how we can continue to mislead the staff.”
The Indestructible Selection, which you need to drop a nuke to kill because it has a lot of lives, decided that he would make the final the perfect canvas to summarize his work in this Eurobasket for the annals of history. In a defensive and offensive exhibition of Spain, the National Team shattered the aspirations of a France which he subdued with overwhelming superiority. I could highlight many names of the very final, but I prefer to stay with the collective strength that placated the French hopes.
The victory was never in danger and Spain signed the roundest match of the entire tournament on the key day. Symbol of a group that has won the hearts of all Spaniards by pushing their own limits to the limit. Impossible not to feel identified with athletes capable of supplying the lack of historical leaders with all the characteristics worthy of an exemplary champion. Scariolo recognized that “I couldn’t think of something like that even in the best of my dreams“. And he said that “you always think you can do a good job, a good basketball. Let your team show their faces and compete. That he did not doubt. But we entered as seventh favorites and came out as champions”. Little more to add. Thank you and congratulations.
The Family has once again written its name in gold letters in the history of national team basketball. In a surprising and unexpected group triumph at the height of the World Cup bagged in 2019, the national team led by Sergio Scariolo left Europe with its mouth open. Nobody gave Spain a favorite over Nikola Jokic’s Serbia, Luka Doncic’s Slovenia, Antetokounmpo’s Greece, Lithuania or even France. That’s how it reflected the ‘power ranking’ of the Eurobasketwhere Spain was seventh in the pools, just behind hosts Germany.. However, and here is the key to victory, no team demonstrated Spain’s unwavering faith, ability to overcome, resistance, courage, choral harmony, winning mentality or determination. The heart of the National Team in difficult moments was enormous and never stopped pumping.