The World Basketball Championship final came to a conclusion on Sunday, and for Spain, they are going home with their second world title after overcoming Argentina 95-75 and giving Marc Gasol his second title of the year.
As the final buzzer sounded, Marc Gasol watched as confetti dropped from above and then took the giant golden chalice awarded to the Champions and gave it a kiss. This was Gasol’s second championship win in the last three months, his first was winning the NBA Championships as a member of the Toronto Raptors.
Gasol managed to score 14 points to help lead Spain to the championship win while Sergio Llull scored 15 and Ricky Rubio who was named Tournament MVP scored 20 point. Commenting on the team, Rubio said,
“We weren’t the most talented team. We weren’t the bigger team. Put anything you want, but we were the team with the biggest heart and we showed it tonight and we showed it during the whole tournament.”
Spain never once gave up the lead in the final, and for Gasol, who plays centre for the Toronto Raptors, 2019 will be a year he’ll not forget. He joins Lamar Odom as the only other player to win both a FIBA World Gold title and an NBA Championship in the same year. He also joins a list of 18 other players who have won multiple titles in the same year. Speaking on the achievement, Gasol said,
“NBA champion and a World Cup champion as well. What can I say? How does it sound to you? I feel very fortunate to be in this position and be able to play this game and help these guys be part of history of Spanish basketball.”
Team Captain Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Llull cut out the nets shortly after the final buzzer. During the gold medal ceremony, the Naismith Trophy was awarded to Fernandez while Gasol looked on with the game ball and Spanish fans joined in the singing of Spain’s national anthem.
Argentina’s Gabriel Deck was their top scorer with 24 points. After getting off to a slow start, Argentina were unable to make up the deficit while Spain kept Luis Scola at bay allowing him only to score 8 points. Commenting Scola said,
“We’re sad right now. We’re very sad, but I feel confident, in hours, we’ll be able to look back and be very proud. They just played better than us. They were better. They deserved to win. They were the better team in the game and the tournament.”
Spain had built up a 12 point lead by the intermission after going on a 14-2 run at the beginning of the game and then another 17-1 run before the first half was over. Speaking on Argentina’s performance, coach Sergio Hernandez said,
“This is basketball. If you play better than the other team, you win the game. And Spain was the best team today.”
Luis Scola, who at 39, remains Argentina’s best player and wasn’t able to score until the final minutes of the third quarter when he sunk two free throws. However, Argentian only managed to reduce Spains lead by 19, and that saw many of their fans sitting quietly while they watched the game going Spain’s way.