A fresh look to Spain. But, so far, the results are the same.
Saturday’s exhilarating 102-94 overtime win over Lithuania secured Spain’s place in the EuroBasket quarter-finals for the 21st consecutive time, the longest streak, breaking the Soviet Union’s 20 straight last eight showings from 1951-1989.
The latest achievement was done with an inexperienced team, internationally, but still talented.
No Juan Carlos Navarro, Gasol brothers, Jose Calderon to lead. Now, Willy and Juancho Hernangomez, Alberto Diaz and Lorenzo Brown – who led Spain with 28 points and eight assists – pace La Roja with Rudy Fernandez the sole survivor from Spain’s past glories having been with the programme since 2004.
And head coach Sergio Scariolo, who led Spain to glory in 2009, 2011 and 2015 prides himself and his international success on values.
“You have to give credit to the heart of these guys,” he says. This is amazing. And this is a matter of pride because we work during the year – during many years – to make these kids grow with the right values, with the right way to compete, to stay together, to welcome people who come new into the group.
“All of these things are above and beyond basketball. It’s something that is really delightful. But at the same time, we are here. We made it so surprisingly to the Quarter-Finals. We are one of the top eight teams of this unbelievably high level championship. We’ll try to give ourselves another shot, why not.”
Finland or Croatia await in the semi-finals. Where they suffered their demise at EuroBasket 2017 at the hands of eventual winners Slovenia.
Scariolo wants to go one better, this year in Berlin.
“This is like a fairytale and we don’t want it to end without having done everything we can possibly do,” Scariolo proclaims.