Friday, September 19, 2014
World Basketball Championships 2014-Spain
This year’s edition of the World Basketball Championship wrapped up on Sunday night. Naturally, the games were serious stuff here in Spain, as they took place in Barcelona and Madrid. There was a serious setback for the local fans in the quarter-finals, as the Spanish team fell to the French, 65-52. That was not supposed to happen, as the Spaniards were ranked second in the tournament, and were supposed to meet the other team in the final. That would be los Americanos.
The Spanish team is composed of several NBA players of some repute, including former Toronto Raptor Jose Calderon. The brothers Gasol also played for the Spaniards. Pau Gasol led the team with 17 points before he fouled out. Calderon added 5 points, but only played 14 minutes. There was a great hue and cry after the game, from the fans. They were very critical of the coaching staff. They may have been some merit in that; however, the home team made two shots from 22 attempts outside the arc.
Boris Diaw had an awesome game for the French. He led the team with 15 points, knocking down three from beyond the line in 7 tries. Rudy Gobert, who plays for the Utah Jazz, added five points but pulled down 13 rebounds. The French were clearly superior under the baskets, pouring it on in the second half after trailing at half time. Thomas Heurtel pumped in 13 points, at critical times.
Coach Orenga put it simply: “France played better. They controlled the boards, they shot better. This loss saddens me. For the fans, for the organization, for my family, truly sad.” He realizes heads must fall after such a humiliating defeat. His job is in jeopardy.
The semi-finals took place before the weekend championship game on Sunday: France and Serbia, USA and Lithuania. The Serbians disposed of Brazil, 84-56. They were led by Teodosic with 23 points, and Bogdanovic with 12. As is the usual case, the Americans have breezed by their opposition, Mexico and Slovenia. On Saturday night, the Serbs disposed of France, in short order. They jumped out to a large lead, and France was never able to recover. Nic Batum had a huge game for France, pumping in 35 points, going 8 for 10 outside the arc. Teodosic countered with 24 points for Serbia, a strong game.
I watched the Americans play against Slovenia. Needless to say, it was bittersweet for the Slovenian fans. Many had made the trek to Barcelona, only to witness the thrashing by the powerful US squad. Mind you, the American team could have been even stronger, had Lebron, Duncan, Kobe and Wade come to play. The stars are not here. No matter.
For the Europeans, this is important stuff. To us, as Canadians, it is about as important as the World Hockey Championships that they play during the Stanley Cup playoffs. You know that tournament. It is for losers. If you do not make the playoffs, or if you get knocked out early, you can be flown to some exotic European location to pull on a team Canada jersey, take a few shifts, then head home for a long vacation, and watch the Hawks and the Habs on TV.
The Americans crushed the Serbians in the final, 129-92. There was a glimmer of hope for the Serbs early in the game, and they led 15-7. The Americans regained their composure, scored 15 straight points, and never looked back. They ran the floor, they cleared the boards, they drove the lane, they shot out the lights. No contest.
The powers-that-be in international basketball are tinkering with new formats. Good luck. Inevitably, it will be a great contest, for second place. Not much fun in that.
September 15, 2014