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 though 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 tournaments 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…
Canada draws Group of Death 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Canada’s path to a 2019 FIBA basketball World Cup medal and hopes of a 2020 Olympic berth took a serious blow prior to the start of the games as No. 23 Team Canada was drawn into the group of death — alongside global powerhouses No. 6 Lithuania, No. 11 Australia, and No. 37 Senegal.
For Canada to have a shot at getting to the podium they will have to finish in the top two spots of Group H to advance to second round of the tournament — where the top 16 teams will be split into four new groups (Groups I, J, K, L). If it reaches that stage Team Canada will once again have to finish in the top two to advance to the quarter-finals.
Canada’s road to the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics is a complex and tough process — given FIBA’s decision to make the World Cup apart of the qualification process. Seven spots are currently up for grabs at FIBA’s flagship event and with hosts Japan earning an automatic entry the room for error is minuscule.
To reach the Olympics, Canada will have to finish as one of the top two teams from the seven team America’s region that features the world’s number one squad in the United States of America alongside traditional mainstays Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Venezula and Puerto Rico.
If Canada is unable to secure a spot as one of the two top America’s region teams, they will hope to be amongst the top 16 teams at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup where they will be granted automatic qualification to a last chance tournament taking place next summer at a yet to be determined locations. If unable to finish in the top 16, Canada’s last hope would be one of the last eight countries that FIBA would invite for one of the last-chance qualifier tournaments.
Therefore, if Canada has any hopes of qualifying for the 12-team 2020 Summer Olympics via the World Cup they will need to advance from Group H one as top two teams, failure to advance in the premilinary round will automatically put Canada’s hopes at the mercy FIBA via the invitation tournament only.
Should Canada reach the second-round they will be placed in the newly formed Group L, alongside Group G winner and runner-up — potentially setting up another group of death with No. 3 France, No. 11 Germany, No. 11 Australia or No. 6 Lithuania.
To make matters worse for the Canadians, they have been pooled on the same half of the draw as the United States — which would mean a potential quarter-finals match-up between the two neighbouring nations, if Canada can somehow get there.
If the Canadians can reach the quarter-finals there is a good chance they alongside the USA would be last two standing Americas teams — thus earning automatic berth to Tokyo 2020.
As evident, by the World Cup draw and given FIBA’s recent changes it’s clearly going to be a tough road for the Canadians to fullfill their 2020 vision of becoming a global basketball powerhouse.
Canada opens up the World Cup against Australia on Saturday August 31st and will take on Lithuania on two days rest on Monday September 2nd beforing concluding Group H action against Senegal on Wednesday September 4th, 2019. All of Canada’s preliminary round games will be played in Dongguan, China
Kia Nurse wins Australian pro championship
Kia Nurse of Hamilton, Ont., finished second in MVP voting as she helped the University of Canberra to a WNBL Championship today in Australia.
Nurse, a six-foot guard, had 12 points and three assists in a 93-73 victory over the Adelaide Lightning in a series-clinching Game 3 at home in AIS Arena.
“Thank you … for giving me an opportunity to play with an amazing group of women,” Nurse said on Twitter after the win.
This was the latest in a series of high-profile achievements for the former University of Connecticut standout.
Nurse is coming off a solid rookie season in the WNBA, where she averaged 9.1 points per game with the New York Liberty.
New York finished out of the playoffs, and Nurse transitioned to the Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) during the offseason.
Many WNBA players spend the offseason in other pro leagues, in part because salaries are low.
The average WNBA player makes less than $72,000 according to the Canadian Press.
Nurse had a larger role with Canberra, roughly averaging 18 points, five rebounds and two assists per game.
Canberra’s 2-1 series win over Adelaide gave the club its eighth WNBL title.
Nurse finished second to Canberra captain Kelsey Griffin in voting for the Rachael Sporn Grand Final MVP award, according to CP.
At 22, Nurse is arguably Canada’s best-known women’s player, thanks in part to her long-running involvement with Team Canada at international tournaments.
She led Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and a seventh-place finish at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Nurse also won two NCAA titles with UConn, where she was also American Athletic Conference (AAC) Freshman of the year in 2015.
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