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Wednesday, 06.09.2006

posted by Stefano Valenti 6:19 pm

Category: FIBA World Championship  


They deserved it, they deserved a gold medal, at last.

For their tradition, for the quality of their players, for the hard work with the youngers that in this summer also filled the trophy case of FEB, with both men's and women's teams.

They deserved a Gold medal at the top level with the senior men's team and they finally won it in the day in which, as too often in the past, they seemed to be the sacrificial lamb, facing reigning European Champions Greece without the wheelchair-bound Pau Gasol.

Somebody already wrote before the seventh chapter of the same story, Spain in a Final but, at the end, beaten?

Like it was five times at European Championships, plus once at the Olympic Games, in 1984 in L.A.? No way, Spain destroyed Greece, we've seen the no-contest Final but with the actors switching the roles they were supposed to hold on the stage, at the tip-off.

It's easy then to say it after the ceremony.

But for many times to write it before was a mistake. But winning this Gold medal without Pau was a kind of payback for the unsuccessful history of Spanish national team basketball.

Last year, at Eurobasket, the Spaniards lost the semifinal on the last shot that Dirk Nowitzki hit in the face of Jorge Garbajosa.

Pau, recovering from a foot injury, was then a color commentator for TVE, and that basket was a big blow for him too, like it was for his team-mates.

Imagine now that Spain reached the Gold medal game in Saitama with Pau: no way, in all the stories about that, Pau back into the team would be the factor for the triumph.

It would be the truth, but not completely.

Pau with his greatness as a player, but at the same time Pau that put a shadow over the quality of his team-mates.

Nothing wrong, it's the way the story like this goes.

But Pau wasn't on the court.

Garbajosa and Navarro took a leadership role of Spain, and with them there was glory for Jimenez and his complete game, for Cabezas and his ball pressure, for Reyes and his ability under the basket, for Marc Gasol and his desire to wear that surname over his shoulder with double pride.

Without Pau, Spain won the gold, and their athletic, physical, mental effort, so well directed from the bench from Pepu Hernandez and his unbelievevable pain for his father death just a few hours earlier, won the Championship.

Never like in this competition, team effort deserved to be on the podium, at the highest stage, more than the credit for a single star, even if his name is Pau Gasol.

Pau was elected Mvp of the tournament from a selected media committee.

No doubt, he was the man for the full Spain day-by-day undefeated walk through those Japanese days.

But he didn't play in the Final.

And the Final is the game that can propel you to glory or, as a loser, in the shadow of the winners, wearing the Silver medal that can give you nice feelings but not before some time has passed. On the podium you can smell only frustration for what you missed during those 40 minutes.

We had a game with no real plot, in Saitama, for the perfection of the Spaniards and the endless stream of mistakes by a Greek team that up to that day had never been so ugly.

But the question is: had Spain become champions on a big three-point shot of Navarro at the buzzer, would Gasol still have been named tournament MVP?

Selected with no fewer that 5 minutes to go? No way, that would have been a mistake, both if Spain had lost the game, or won it on Navarro's big shot. Be a World champion or not, this means to be a true MVP, and in that case Gasol can't be selected as Mvp. And this is a message for Fiba's next event, if we can.