When Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa almost a decade ago this writer was in London seeing a friend from Seoul, South Korea. From Oxford Circus to the fountain tops of Piccadilly Circus there looked like a million Spanish people lining the streets that all lived here in the Big Smoke (F### Brexit! Multicultural is beautiful). And despite the honking horns and raised glasses it was the most peaceful, beautiful sports celebration I have ever seen. No hostility, just community. A Spanish man fell to his knees in front of me like he’d just scored and grabbed my hand with both of his in prayer. The most beautiful Spanish woman I’ve ever seen in her nations strip and scarf walked past me whilst trailing her fingertips across my arm and asked me flirtatiously whilst giggling, “who won the World Cup!”
Just an old memory to reminisce as we begin.
No Muleta could ever stop this raging red Spanish bull.
Ever since way before Kobe and Pau went from teammates to rivals every Summer, Spain have been one of the biggest nations in Basketball and certainly the most complete team. And now even without the older Spanish G.O.A.T. Gasol watching at home in his uniform and with Team USA given freedom by the bronze placed France, Spain proved once again that they aren’t only the most consistent and best team in Europe…but the greatest in the whole wide world.
Right now and forever more on the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This FIBA tournament has been something else in its self. And if this writer wasn’t about to start his own road to Japan he would have been able to enjoy it even more. But shout out to editor Edilson Silva’s wrists for keeping us in touch with the tournament on Twitter.
Even without the power of Pau, or many big names in the legendary legacy of the last decade of the Spanish side (no Sergio Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Nikola Mirotic, or Serge Ibaka), the Spanish team still ruled like soccer or their basketball brother team Barcelona. As legends like Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio and of course Marc Gasol cut South America’s Argentina down to 20 point blowout, 95-75 size like Luis Scola’s trademark hair (but what a run of play for a member of the team of the tournament).
Marc made his mark as the second player in history to be an NBA Champion and a FIBA World Cup one in the same year, although unfortunately fellow Toronto Raptor Ibaka couldn’t join him. But what a Summer for the first player to do this since the Lakers Lamar Odom almost a decade back in 2010. Only a year after Marc Gasol’s draft rights were traded by the purple and gold for brother Pau.
“The rest of the world have been caught up for quite some time”, like Kobe Bryant said. “The days of the ’92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone”.
Now that’s as true as the U.S. coming in fourth place like half the States had a dance recital.
Congratulations to the real Dream Team…yeah I said it.
Ricky Rubio had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and no one deserves it more.
Marc Gasol had 14 and 7 in both rebounds and assists.
Sergio Llull had 15.
Rudy Fernandez 11, 10 and 3.
And both Juancho and Willy Hernangomez both had 11 too.
Now what more can you possibly say like reacting to that practice pregame half court heave underarm…from behind the back like a Globetrotter?
Gabriel Deck led the way for Argentina with 24 whilst the likes of old rivals and friends Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker watched from courtside in a sold out arena in Beijing. Whilst Scola scored 8. Argentina were valiant in the final like they were the whole terrific tourney until they were slain by Spain.
Now expect Spain to control the Japanese Olympics in Tokyo next year like a matador.
Canada knocks off Sweden qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Canada’s women’s national basketball team is headed for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Team Canada picked-up it’s second victory of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, defeating Team Sweden 80-50 to earn their third straight trip to the summer games.
Natalie Achonwa nearly perfect 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists performance anchored a dominate Canadian offensive attack that featured four players in double-figures. The Indiana Fever power forward knocked-down 8-of-9 field goals in just 17 minutes.
Shaina Pellington was outstanding with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. Kia Nurse, Canada’s other WNBA player finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and Miranda Ayim added with 10 points and 3 rebounds.
All players contributed to win — logging at least five minutes and recording a stat on the scoresheet. 18 year old Laeticia Amihere made her official senior team debut — scoring 8 quick points in games’ final 8 minutes.
The victory will send Canada to their six (7) Olympic games. Team Canada also qualified in 1976, 1984 1996, 2000, 2012, 2016 — earning a country best fourth-place finish at the 1984 Olympiad in Los Angeles, California.
Canada becomes the sixth (6) team to qualify for the games — eight (8) gold medalist, United States, China, France, Nigeria and tournament hosts Japan have also earned there spot. Six more teams will make-up the 12-team showcase. The 2020 games will run from July 24 – August 09.
Canada beats Belgium now one win away from Tokyo 2020
Canada’s senior women’s national team kicked-off the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifiers with a hard fought 61-56 over tournament hosts Belgium.
Needing only two victories to earn a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games — the Canadians came out swinging against 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meeseeman
Canada, ranked no. 4 in the latest FIBA World rankings trailed for less then two (2) minutes before taking control of game mid-away through the second-quarter — pulling ahead for game-high 16-point lead at 30-14 in the late stages of the first-half. Behind a terrific and supportive home crowd, combined with sloppy last 1:48 minute by Canada allowed the Belgium team to close the half on 9-0 run — trimming the Canadian lead to 30-23 at half-time.
Kia Nurse scored a game-high 19 points, dished out 3 assists and captured 3 steals. Kayla Alexander had an outstanding game, banging inside for 12 points and 3 rebounds. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe also contributed with 7 points, 6 rebounds and Shaina Pellinton came-off the bench — adding 7 points and 4 rebounds. Natalie Achonwa was effective on both ends of the court providing a spark with 6 points and 3 rebounds.
Canada outscored Belgium 26-8 in the paint and showcased it’s depth, scoring 24 points off the bench.
Belgium was paced by Emma Meeseeman’s team-high 14 points, 6 rebounds. Kim Mestdagh put in an all-around effort with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Canada (1-0) will take on a Sweden (0-1) in their upcoming game for an opportunity to qualify for their third straight Summer Olympic games.