in 2006, when Pau Gasol put together an MVP performance for Spain, the country won its first World Cup. While his brother isn’t managing the same level of production, Marc Gasol has been a leader on a national side that is stacked with talent.
And after being the glue that held together an NBA championship-winning Toronto Raptors team earlier this year, the younger sibling has done the same to help his country to a second World Cup gold medal.
It’s hard not to feel bad for Luis Scola, as a FIBA World Cup gold medal is one of the few titles he has failed to acquire during a lengthy national team career, but his Argentina team were outclassed by a deep Spanish squad, who won the final 95-75 in China.
From the opening tip
Argentina were down big in the opening quarter. Gasol’s good defensive work on Scola, plus Ricky Rubio’s relentlessness as a threat to score and pass to a team full of players ready to put points on the board, opened up a 14-2 run in the first quarter.
Argentina stormed back with 11 straight points, but Spain then re-established their lead after going on a 17-1 run. In the third quarter, the Spaniards kept the pressure on and even though Argentina fought hard, there was no coming back against this focused squad.
Facundo Campazza had some exciting plays early but never managed to break loose in the scoring column, and Scola never got going in any way. The scoring fell to the likes of Gabriel Deck, who managed to break open for some fast break dunks, and Nicolas Laprovittola added 17.
However, Spain put six players into double figures, led by Rubio, who managed 20 points with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. It proved that he can still be a reliable point guard on an important team after largely being played out of the NBA conversation in recent years.
If veterans Gasol and Fernandez can stick around for another summer, this Spanish team could manage something it has never done – winning gold at the Olympics. The team is strong enough as a unit, and with Juancho and Willy Hernangomez’s continued growth, Spain could continue to challenge on the international stage for many years to come.
Meanwhile, Argentina will have hopes to return to Tokyo next year, and perhaps Scola could close his career with another Olympic gold. But if Spain can put on a performance like they did this year in China, they will be tough to beat.