Spain have retained their Eurobasket crown with a dominant 98-85 victory over France.
Juan Carlos Navarro won the MVP award with 27 points, to lead all scorers.
“France are a top team, they played really hard tonight,” Pau Gasol said at the post-game press conference. “This is a very sweet moment for us though. I want to thank the coaching staff, the fans for being here. I have never been prouder.”
Both teams have already qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, but the champions were simply unstoppable, as they reached a double-digit lead in the third and never looked back.
In a frantic opening few minutes, France seemed to out-muscle their opponents with Joakim Noah annoying Pau Gasol inside, a Tony Parker jumper gave France a 10-8 lead early.
Spain though regrouped Juan Carlos Navarro, who scored eight points in the first hit from downtown to give Spain a 22-14 advantage. Nicolas Batum answered with a three of his own but the Spaniards held on to lead 25-20 after one.
Spain then showed their dominance. Serge Ibaka was a force with five blocks, intimidating even Tony Parker when driving to the basket.
The game turned ugly when Rudy Fernandez dangerously fouled Parker whilst in mid-air. The Dallas Mavericks man was given an unsportsmanlike. Parker was banged-up, but carried on playing.
France dug deep, and with the crowd behind them, Batum picked Navarro’s pocket and hammered home in transition.
The game had new life, it seemed. The crowd were firmly in France’s corner. Spain though kept their lead at the half, 50-41.
France had closed the gap to six points with a 7-0 run, but Navarro answered back with a three right in front of his team-mates bench.
France were starting to play Spain’s own game, run-and-gun. Problem is, that only helped the Spaniards. Navarro combining with Sergio Llull in transition to score. Spain comfortable at 75-62 after three.
Spain were rampant, France: tired. Pau Gasol drained a three from the corner to make it 84-68. Even Jose Calderon got a one-handed dunk in the lane. They oozed confidence.
The game was out of France’s reach.
“I’m very grateful to my players,” Spain coach Scariolo said at the press conference. “I’m very lucky to coach these great players.”
More quotes to follow…