It is written that it is Spain. However, the path is planned for Germany to maintain themselves at the end of “him” The Euro, brought to the public has won its cause. But the 2022 European Basketball Championship wanted nothing more than to go off the course it seemed designed for. And Friday, September 16, a few hours after the Blues qualified without a shock against the Poles, the Spaniards beat Germany, to join their arch-rivals in the XXI.e century at the end. “It’s funnysaid French pivot Rudy Gobert. Spain, even if you think you will never meet them, it always happens. »
Sunday September 18 (8:30 pm, on M6 and Canal+360), France and Spain will cross swords for the European title. A “classic” in basketball, because the two countries have competed for continental supremacy for almost twenty years – with a great advantage of La Roja (17 wins to 4 in the European Championship). The poster is far from guaranteed. “I wouldn’t have bet on Spain in the final”confirmed Evan Fournier, the captain of France.
Even Spain’s very experienced Italian coach, Sergio Scariolo, admits that ” [ses] players [avaient] completely exceeded expectations. » When it came to rebuilding the competition, the reigning world champions defied predictions by reaching the final. “This medal is the least expected of all, but perhaps the most satisfying for me”tasted the Italian tactics, who already have seven at the head of Spain.
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“You need to know how to turn the page”, warned Pau Gasol. The Iberian icon, the former teammate of Kobe Bryant in the Los Angeles Lakers, has ended his great career a year ago. For La Roja, the page is full of history. Since 2000, eight continental medals (three titles), two World Cup crowns (2006, 2019) and three Olympic medals (2008, 2012, 2016) line the trophy shelf of the Spanish basketball federation. For this Euro, in addition to Pau Gasol, his brother Marc and Sergio Rodriguez have retired; and the losses piled up.
Renewed and without much international experience, the team of the Hernangomez brothers (Willy and Juancho) and captain Rudy Fernandez landed in the continental competition with uncertainty. “It’s not the same team anymore but it still has a winning culture, one that allows you to find a way to be good when you need to”Rudy Gobert warned.
“The best European basketball”
“Spain is the best team in Europe for fifteen years”, by Vincent Collett. On several occasions in the competition, the French coach emphasized the dangers of underestimating this team. “When we started the Euros, I told my assistants that he was there, said the French coach. Without the Gasol brothers, everyone thinks they will go down the hierarchy but we must not forget the school of Spanish basketball, backed by the best European basketball and not a few stars. »
A school that once again shines in 2022. “This is the ninth final for Spanish basketball this summer”insisted Sergio Scariolo Friday after the semi-final won by his team. “We have to measure the magnitude of this number: Spain has qualified a team to the final of every competition! » If the players reach the final of the World Cup, which starts at the end of September in Australia, they can complete the perfect summer for the Iberians, from under-16 to senior men and women – for three titles so far.
“Spain has a special knowledge of Europe. Whatever their group is, you will always find the idea of the group., said Evan Fournier. The La Roja coach elaborated: “These achievements don’t happen overnight.. It is the result of many years of hard work, and it reflects our values as teams. »
Lorenzo Brown’s contribution
Added values, too, if, at the beginning of the summer, the American point guard Lorenzo Brown – who has never played in Spain – was chosen to compensate for the absence of Ricky Rubio and Sergio Llull, injured, rather than tapping. to the pool of young teams. The Spanish players’ union expressed regret “The very damaging message sent to the national players, which will have a negative impact now and in the future. »
However, the native of Roswell, Georgia (United States), has been fully integrated into the Spanish squad, and applies, if there is a victory on Sunday, to the title of MVP (most valuable player, best player) in the competition. A winning bet for Sergio Scariolo, who “held by vox populibecause he knows he needs this player”, knew Vincent Collet. For him, “Lorenzo Brown has made this collective even bigger, without needing that”.
“If other teams don’t see this edition as an opportunity, I don’t know when they will have it”joked Sergio Scariolo after the qualification of his Roja for the last four of the continental for the eleventh time in a row – series that continues since 1999. At 61, the technician from Brescia will play a new international that final with Spain.
If he says, at the beginning of the competition, “The past is the past, we must move on” in order not to compare his team to the Spanish golden generation, Scariolo did not change his philosophy. “The idea is still to find the unmarked player, and to play the way the whole world has admired this team for years. »
For the Blues, the mission is, if not simple, clear: “We will try to remove them from this supremacy in Europe, defeating them is a first step in this direction”, concluded Vincent Collet. And a second European title for his team.
France – Spain, Sunday September 18 at 8:30 pm (on M6 and Canal+360). To follow live on Le Monde. Fr