Grab the popcorn… France-Spain in the final, a new page in an incandescent rivalry

From his couch in Los Angeles, Nicolas Batum did not miss a single crumb of this Eurobasket. The Blues captain, who skipped the contest to better prepare for the upcoming season with the Clippers, pushed behind his teammates, defending leaders Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert when things got shaky… and if we believe his Twitter account, came close to cardiac arrest when the Blues came back from hell, like against Turkey and Italy. More calm after the total control of the semi-final against Poland, the Normand is salivating for what awaits the French team on Sunday: a final against good old Spain, the country’s traditional enemy.

“We hate each other but we respect each other”, Batum summed up before the quarter-final between the two teams at the 2016 Olympics, which turned out to be dead for the Blues (92-67 loss). One battle among many others in what has become the biggest battle in European basketball. It’s very simple, for 20 years, the two countries faced each other in almost every major competition. With the common denominator of a “muy caliente” atmosphere, between the French who are not always good losers and the Spaniards who are masters of the art of making money.

Among the most burning memories, we will mention three:

  • Quarter-final of Olympics in London. In the fourth quarter with one line, the Blues lost their nerve to watch the insufferable Navarro, Calderon and Fernandez go down (simulated) at all costs, arguing, moaning, room before hiding the referee’s petticoats. Batum cracked and stuck one to Navarro. “It will give them a good reason to flop (simulated)”, said the winger after this small defeat (59-66).
  • Euro 2013 semi-finals. There was everything in this game, the Blues’ false start, Tony Parker’s half-time rant (at 31’45 in the following video), the crazy return, the match point for Spain, the extension and finally “the best victory in the history of French basketball” (75-72), according to TP, leader of the rebellion with his 32 points. The Blues will then look for their first international title against Lithuania.

  • The quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup. Spain, which crushed the Blues in the group stage (88-64), is looking to win the World Cup, playing at home. But in the quarters, the French team, deprived of Tony Parker, Nando De Colo and Joakim Noah, taught him a lesson. The young Rudy Gobert pissed off Pau Gasol with the racket, and the Blues took off at the end of the game. It was the famous “THOMAS HEURTEL DONNE MOI TON SHORT” by commentator David Cozette, after a stratospheric three-point shot from the French leader to give the French an 8-point lead with one minute left. The perfect foot.

The Spaniards had their revenge a year later, by eliminating France in the Euro semi-finals in Lille. In general, moreover, the generation of Gasol kicked the Blues’ buttocks more often than the reverse, and during the last final between the two countries, during Euro 2011, Spain won (98 -85). “Spain has the best basketball school, the one that has dominated the continent for 20 years, knew Vincent Collet on Friday, before knowing the result of another semi-final. Everyone tried to challenge him of this supremacy which did not always succeed. »

In fact, in this year 2022, the scene has changed a lot on the part of Spain. The Gasol brothers are enjoying retirement sipping cocktails, Ricky Rubio and Sergio Llull are injured. Eight of the twelve players are playing their first international tournament there. Fortunately, veteran Rudy Fernandez (37) is still there, a remnant of the most violent fights and wants to continue the tradition, six years after the last confrontation. But the Blues warmed up well by biting the Poles’ calves for 40 minutes, and have no plans to let the intensity down. Especially not against the Spaniards. A piece of history will still be played out this Sunday in Berlin. And like all of us, Nicolas Batum is in front of his TV with popcorn.

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