Spain began their defence of the Eurobasket crown with a unconvincing 83-79 victory over Poland in Panevezys.


Pau Gasol led the Spanish with 29 points with Juan Carlos Navarro backing him up with 23 in a game where Spain didn’t get out of first gear and still came away with the victory.

The big story for the holders is how little their point guards influenced the tie. With Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Sergio Llull all failing to register a single point.

Despite Spain leading 61-52 after three, and looking comfortable. Poland, with nothing to lose, went all out and attacked the glum Eurobasket holders.

They dragged it to just two points, thanks to foul shots from Thomas Kelati with a minute to play (80-78), but a pair of free-throws from Navarro and one from Pau settled the tie and condemned Poland to defeat.

Earlier, the Spanish were rampant, as we all expected, with captain Navarro leading from the front with a triple to extend their advantage from 22-15 after the first quarter to 40-25, half-way through the second and were in cruise control.

Poland though hung on to set up a surprising, yet thrilling finish.