Campeones De Europa!
Those who thought former Los Angeles Laker and one of the best European legends of all-time, Pau Gasol was done may want to check one of the 1,660 times this guy is getting mentioned on Twitter in a hashtag trend right now.
Because even without Marc Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies brother who everyone thought had surpassed him, or even the NBA talented likes of fellow countrymen Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio in this tournament, Pau powered his nation to the EuroBasket finals and the very trophy itself.
A wealth of talent like Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez and Chicago Bulls sophomore stud teammate Nikola Mirotic may be on the side of an international team that has the depth and dynamics to give the Dream of Team USA nightmares in Rio next year for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, but it was the older brother Gasol who has been the elder statesmen of this tourney.
From dunking like LeBron to MVP performances in the semis, check youtube or a box score because this guy is more than back…he’s really something. Those who thought the former Laker who gave the purple more championship gold had had his redemptive re-charge in Chicago as a Bull had no idea this Summer stampede was coming.
Now just like we can no longer doubt his All-Star and beyond a franchise winning legacy, can we no longer brush brilliant and inspired international tournaments of a sensational Summer like this aside for stuff like sneakers and signings or the things to come next year?
Because this like the game of Gasol is serious!
P.G.’s double, double led Spain past Lithuania 80-63 as he tallied an incredible line of 25 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots for the tournament’s finale. “It was an incredible championship,” Pau told press postgame after Spain retained a title they lost in 2013 (San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker and Boris Diaw’s France where victorious in that one…they won the bronze medal this time around in the 81-68 third-place playoff win against Serbia) to make for three championships in the last four years of play.
Spain’s King Felipe VI and tennis great Rafael Nadal watched an aces Spain team crowned champions in this gold medal game which reduced Lithuania to a silver-medal lining. Led by the Most Valuable Player of this tournament number 16, a 16 point run surged a streaking Spain to be in cruise control for most of this championship clash. Yet, this whole tournament has been one of competitive court proceedings that show just how classic this game can be, even off the continent of the United States. This is more than just the international imports that have made the NBA great from Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac to the Gasol brothers, this is a wider look at what this sport of basketball really is about.
What this game really is…
Hot shooting Australia Boomers take down Canada
Canada wrapped-up a two-game exhibition series against 2019 FIBA World Cup group H foe and commonwealth neighbor with a 81-73 loss to the hot shooting Australia Boomers.
Canada started off slow as Australia made their defensive adjustments, after blowing out the Aussies 90-70 a day earlier by limiting the Canadians pick and roll opportunities and forcing Canada to shoot by going under screens. The Canadian’s trailed 13-6 early, but rallied with a 12-5 run to close the first-quarter with a 18-17 lead on a step-back jumper from Oshae Brissett.
Using a combination of U Sports basketball guards Canada opened up the second-quarter with back-to-back triples from Aaron Best and Kaza Kajami-Keane for a 26-19 lead with 7:27 to play. Australia responded with a 9-0 run to re-take the lead before Andrew Nembhard put a halt to the run with a easy lay-up. Khem Birch dropped in an inside basket to put Canada up 33-30 at half-time after a low-scoring 20 minutes.
The action picked-up in the third-quarter as both teams shot the ball extremely well, combining for a total of 56 points. Melvin Ejim scored Canada’s first five points and Khem Birch dominated the paint to give Team Canada a 48-38 advantage with 5:42 to play. Australia quickly found their stroke knocking down three-straight triples in less than minute – on their way to six in the quarter and a slim 60-59 lead after the third-quarter.
Canada’s offense dried-up in the fourth-quarter with just two points scored at the mid-way point as they settled for long jumpers and unnecessary three-pointers to quickly find themselves down 70-61 with 4:43 to play in the game.
Khem Birch sparked a late Canadian run, scoring 6 straight points to cut the lead down to 3 points at 70-67 with 3:30 to play and finished with a game-high 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals. Oshae Brissett added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Kaza Kajami-Keane rounded out Canada’s double-figure scores with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and Melvin Ejim contributed with 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The Boomers knocked down 12-31 (38%) from downtown, after shooting just 3-for-13 in the first-half. The Canadians were a miserable 7-of-25 (28%) from the outside and struggled with turnovers with 16. The Aussies grabbed 12 offensive boards and won the battle of the glass with a 43-40 edge.
“I thought it was very positive for us these two games, I thought we played extremely well, we competed, we played as a team, last night we obviously shot the ball a little bit better from three-point land but overall I thought it was a very positive two days for us.” – shared Canada’s Associate head coach Gordie Herbert after the game.
“We showed a lot of character these last two games, we had some guys not playing, but it was the same on their side. We played really tough, this is a great Australian team, they got a lot of great players and they are going to do very well. But I thought we showed promised and have the ability to compete no matter who we put on the floor.” – added Melvin Ejim.
Australia was led by Jock Landale with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Jonah Bolden added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists and Chris Goulding with 10 points and 3 rebounds on 3-of -7 triples.
Canadian head coach Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Andrew Nembhard, Philip Scrubb, Oshae Brissett, Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch while resting Kevin Pangos. Team Canada was also without the services of Cory Joseph and sharpshooter Brady Heslip. The Boomers played without Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut.
Both teams held back schemes, familiarized and acquainted themselves with each other and now have game footage in preparation for a crucial 2019 FIBA World Cup opening clash between the teams in less than two weeks in China.
Team Canada (2-2) will continue its FIBA World Cup preparations with a two-game series against New Zealand in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday August 20 and Wednesday August 21st.
Canada lays the boom defeats Australia 90-70
Canada opened-up a five-game pre-FIBA World cup exhibition schedule on foreign soil with an impressive 20-point, 90-70 win over Australia Boomers.
Playing with just one NBA player after inviting 17 to training camp, Canada dissected Australia’s poor pick and roll defense by controlling the tempo with outstanding guard play and timely three-point shooting.
Kevin Pangos 18 points, 6 assists , 4 steals, on 7-of-10 shooting, 4-of-6 triples paced five Canadian basketball players in double-figures.
“He just wants us to play aggressive and play with confidence and keep getting better, it’s a process, we don’t want to peak right now, we want to peak at the Worlds.” discussed Pangos post-game about head Coach Nick Nurse’s mentality coming into the physical affair against a team that is part of Canada’s group H at the World Cup.
19-year-old point-guard Andrew Nembhard finished with a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists playing a team-high 26 minutes.
“I’m just excited to be here, I feel like I’m supposed to be here and feel really comfortable on the court.” – opened-up Nembhard after the game.
Kaza Kajami-Keane came off the bench and hit a crucial three-pointer to end the third-quarter to restore orders for Canada and finished with 12 points. on 2-of-3 three-pointers. Kyle Wiltjer was crucial with 11 points and 6 rebounds including 3-of-6 from downtown.
Owen Klassen filling in for injured Olynyk was solid with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Philip Scrubb also chipped in with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Canada knocked down 13-of-32 (40%) triples and shot 36-of-79 (45%) from the the game.
Australia a team, loaded with NBA talent including Patty Mills, Joe Ingles (11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Andrew Bogut (10 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists), Matthew Dellavedova (0 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds) were held to just 6-of-34 shooting from three-pointers and struggled with 15 turnovers — largely due to Team Canada’s active hands on defense.
Mills finished with a game-high 20 points knocking down 4 of Australia’s 6 three-pointers on just 4-of-13 outside the arc.
Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Philip Scrubb, Kevin Pangos, Oshae Brissett (3 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists). Both Brady Heslip and Melvin Ejim sat out this one out and will likely suit-up for the next game.
Canada improves to 2-1 in their 7-game pre-Fiba schedule and will take on the Aussies once again tomorrow as both teams get ready for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
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