Argentina and Spain will face each other in the Final of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, with their sights set on the title and the gold medal.
The two teams that will clash at the Wukesong Arena of Beijing on Sunday night (15/09) are undefeated, but only one will claim the title. Will it be the Argentinians or the Spaniards?
Argentina has probably played the best basketball among the 32 teams of the tournament, averaging 87.6 points per game. With Luis Scola and Facundo Campazzo as the leaders, Argentina has dominated all its opponents so far.
They comfortably qualified for the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals and have been unstoppable since then.
Not only have they eliminated the grand favourite for the title, Serbia, but they did that by scoring 97 points against one of the best defensive lines of the tournament.
In addition, all players, no matter if they start the game or come off the bench, have a specific role in the team’s tactics and know what to do on the floor.
Aside from this, the players know each other very well and have created a great chemistry, which helps them play for each other and enjoy their time on the floor.
For his part, Scola has probably been the best player of the competition so far, playing excellent on both ends and averaging 19.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
The 39-year-old center knows that the World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games (Argentina secured its ticket to next summer’s tournament) will most likely be the last ones of his illustrious career.
Therefore, he does his best to lead his team to the title, while he also is an inspiration for his teammates on and off the court.
At the same time, Campazzo is one of the best point guards of the World Cup and his playing style looks flawless.
The guard of Real Madrid, who averages 13.6 points and 7.7 assists, is a great on-ball defender, while offensively he can make big shots and dish assists for his teammates.
Apart from this duo, though, the roster of Argentina includes players like Nicolas Lapprovittola and Patricio Garino, who can be game changers and make the difference for their team.
Last but not least, head coach Sergio Hernandez has done an excellet job to prepare his players both physically and mentally.
His team looks ready to face any challenge and his up-tempo playing style enables them to take the upper hand over their opponents.
In my opinion, Argentina enters the Final as the favourite, not only because they have many players in great condition, but because they have the momentum on their side.
On the other hand, Spain defied the odds and qualified for the Final, playing consistently since the start of the tournament.
Due to the decision of some key players (Pau Gasol, Sergio Rodriguez, Nikola Mirotic) to skip the World Cup, many fans and basketball journalists were insiting that Spain would be the underachievers of the competition.
However, Sergio Scariolo and his players have proved their doubters wrong and have advanced to the Final unbeaten, also having one of the best defensive lines of the tournament, with 66.9 points per game.
They defeated Italy and Serbia in the Round of 16 and rallied past Poland in the Quarter-finals (90-78). Then, they survived Australia in double overtime (95-88), coming back from a double-digit deficit.
With Marc Gasol taking over (33 points) and Ricky Rubio (19 points, 12 assists) playing excellent offensively, the Spaniards stood tall against the Boomers and will play in the Final for the first time since 2006.
The team’s roster is one of the deepest and most talented of the entire competition, consisting of players that can stop the up-tempo playing style of Argentina and, at the same time, make the difference ofensively.
Rudy Fernandez, the Hernangomez brothers (Willy and Huancho) and Sergio Llull are some of the best two-way players of the tournament and their performance in the game will be vital for Spain’s effort to win the title.
Coach Scariolo will want to see his players impose their playing style and dominate the Argentinians, however he knows that his team has to be ready for a 40-minute battle en route to the gold medal.
Collectively, an exciting between the two best teams of the competition is expecting, with Argentina, who returns to the Final after 2002, having the momentum on their side.
However, the Spaniards know how to win these games, so expect a tough battle that will be decided in the final minutes.