Spain won EuroBasket, beating France 88-76 for gold

BERLIN (AP) — In Spain, almost every name on the national team roster has changed in recent years….

BERLIN (AP) — In Spain, almost every name on the national team roster has changed in recent years.

Expectations did not come true. And the results too.

Toronto Raptors’ Juancho Hernangamez scored 27 points, his brother Willy Hernangamez added 14 and was named tournament MVP, and Spain beat France 88-76 on Sunday to win the EuroBasket gold medal.

It was Spain’s fourth European Championship in the last six attempts, all golds won under coach Sergio Scariol.

“It’s easy to say we’re extremely happy,” Scariolo said. “We got to this championship from the eighth place in the power rating and managed to rise, step by step. … Now it was amazing to see that we were above all these great teams.”

Lorenzo Brown had 14 points and 11 assists for Spain, while Jaime Fernandez had 13.

Evan Fournier led France, which also lost the Tokyo Olympics gold medal to the U.S. last summer, with 23 points, Thomas Hoertel had 16 and Gershon Yabusele added 13.

Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves had just six points on two field goals for France.

“Spain played better from start to finish,” said Fournier, who plays with the New York Knicks. “They had a clear game plan, but we didn’t implement ours. … We never controlled the game. They just played better, man, period.”

It was supposed to be a summer of recovery for Spain. Pau and Marc Gasol, longtime leaders of the program, retired from international careers after the USA’s quarterfinal loss at the Tokyo Games. Sergio Gonzalez also decided last summer it was time to retire after 16 years with the national team. Two more veterans, Sergio Lull and Ricky Rubio, were unable to play due to injuries.

The winning tradition continued anyway. Spain is currently the reigning Basketball World Cup (won in China in 2019) along with the Eurobasket champion. He has also won medals in 10 of the last 11 EuroBasket matches.

“It’s hard to put into words how I feel,” said Willy Hernangamez, who plays in the NBA for New Orleans. “I am very proud of my teammates, my coaching staff, the entire Spanish federation from top to bottom. We are very worthy of this gold medal.”

But this young team also had an abundance of youth: When Scariola and Willy Hernangomez attempted to hold a post-match press conference, the rest of Spain’s squad disrupted the session, armed with water bottles and drenched the MVP and their coach.

“That’s the dark side of a young team,” Scariola said, happily wiping his face with a towel. “I don’t see Pau Gasol splashing the water.”

It was another medal for France — and another case of falling just short of the shiniest medal. France’s last major honor was winning EuroBasket in 2013. Since then, the French have won two bronze medals at the World Championships (2014, 2019), bronze at EuroBasket (2015), silver at the Tokyo Olympics, and now silver again.

The difference was clear, with Spain holding a whopping 35-7 advantage in points per loss.

“Today, obviously, we lost the gold,” said France coach Vincent Calais. “They executed their plan flawlessly.”

Juancho Hernangomez was 6-for-6 from 3-point range in 6 minutes of the second quarter, helping Spain extend a 23-14 lead to a 45-26 lead with 3 minutes left in the half.

Perhaps it was a slightly unlikely source for a 3-point barrage. He’s made a total of 12 3s in his previous eight games at this year’s EuroBasket, and his most in any NBA game is six.

“We needed him today and he was there for us,” Willy Hernangomez said.

An 11-0 run helped France cut a 21-point deficit to just 47-37 at the half – and the momentum carried into the third quarter.

Jabusele’s jumper with 6:52 left in the third put France up 49-46 and everything seemed to change.

But Spain persevered. Juancho Hernangomez’s seventh three-pointer with 7:29 left in the game made it 71-61, and the result was once again beyond doubt.

“I couldn’t be happier as a basketball coach,” Scariola said.

BRONZE MEDAL

GERMANY 82, POLAND 69

Earlier on Sunday, Los Angeles Lakers’ Dennis Schroder scored 26 points as host Germany held off Poland in the bronze medal game.

It was Germany’s first EuroBasket medal since winning silver in 2005. Poland achieved its best result in the competition since 1971.

“They told me it’s been 17 years since Germany won a medal,” said Germany coach Gordie Herbert. “It’s kind of fitting that Dennis Schroder’s number is 17. It’s been an incredible honor to coach these guys from day one.”

Johannes Voigtmann scored 14 for Germany.

“We worked hard for this,” Schroeder said. “It’s an incredible feeling to finish third at EuroBasket.”

Michal Sokolowski led Poland with 18 points, Jakub Garbach scored 12, and AJ Slaughter finished with 10 points and 10 assists.

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