Sunday, September 03, 2006

2006 FIBA Worlds-Gold Medal Game Recap

SPAIN 70, GREECE 47:

- I thought Spain had one of the best defenses for a few years and felt they had the most impressive defense throughout the tourney. Well, this game just cemented them as the clear-cut best defensive team in int'l play. This was one of the best defensive performances I've ever seen--just a great team defensive effort.

Spain's defense was stifling. They had great activity all game and their help & recovery was textbook. Spanish Coach Hernandez did a great job mixing up looks (it even seemed sometimes they were changing between man & zone in the same possession); he has been doing a great job all tourney with his defenses. Greece had a ton of trouble running any of their sets & when they did get looks, Spain always seemed to be contesting the shots. Literally, Spain seem to challenge every shot, I can't remember too many easy looks for Greece at all. Spain altered way too many shots to count. Also, Spain did a great job chasing down offenisve boards which led to some killer second chance points.

Basically no one from Greece did much of anything. Greece's outside shooting came back down to reality in this game--5/21 from 3pt. Theo Papaloukas (10 pts, 5 rbs, & 3 assts) made some things happen when he entered the game but he was no where near as effective in this game as he was vs. the US--although that had alot to do with the difference in defenses between Spain & Team USA. Michail Kakiouzis was the only other Greek of note with 17 pts & 9 rbs on 3/4 from 3pt.

Toronto Raptor Jorge Garbajosa was the most valuable player of the game with his play at both ends of the floor. From drilling outside looks, to grabbing offensive boards, great defense individually or especially in help situations, his overall hustle was spectacular. He's been playing this way for the entire tourney and has been playing this jack-of-all-trades role as well as anyone in the world for many years: he's basically a Euro Robert Horry. Check out this killer stat line--20 pts, 10 rbs (5 off.), 4 assts, 3 steals & 6/11 from 3pt.

Juan Navarro also sparked this Spanish club the entire game with his shooting & penetration--he finished off a great tourney with 20 pts, 4 rbs, 3 assts & 4/9 from 3pt. Spain just outhustled Greece all game on both ends and they really helped their cause with second chance opportunities. Reserves Felipe Reyes (10 pts) & Marc Gasol (7 rebs) did an admirable job holding down the painted area in Pau's absence on both ends of the floor. Wily vet Carlos Jimenez just reviled in the dirty work he loves & has been doing for years for Spain--11 boards & great all-around defense.

The scary thing about this game was not only that Spain won this game without Gasol, but this team is just coming into their prime. Pau, Calderon, & Navarro are in their mid-20s while youngsters Rudy Fernandez & Sergio Rodriguez show signs of star potential. You combine this with a good crop of under-20 talent led by one of the best teens on the planet, Ricky Rubio, Spain should be on top of the int'l b-ball world for a long time to come.

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