Spain beats France, wins European Championships

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
10:59
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If you missed the game, catch the replay here.

Just want to read about it? Mark Woods has a great feature for ESPN.com, detailing a true team effort for the Spanish national team in a tournament full of them. Spain was the best team in the competition, with more skill and depth than any other nation. They were supposed to win, but winning when it's expected isn't always the easiest thing in the world.

While he wasn't named EuroBasket MVP, that honor went to Juan Carlos Navarro, who blew up in the semifinal against Macedonia for 35 and scored another 27 points against the French, Pau Gasol's time in Lithuania was well spent. His line in the final was a rock-solid 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks over 27 minutes of play, matching quality work throughout the tournament. Pau averaged 20.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, shot about 53 percent, including almost 64 percent from downtown. He was a force for the Spanish from start to finish, putting up quality numbers while respecting what (at least to me, watching on the Internet) felt like a very strong egalitarian ethic to the team.

Most important, this Gasol bore no resemblance to the version taking the floor last spring in the NBA playoffs, looking instead like the player Lakers fans had grown to love. It won't be enough to erase all the bad memories -- questions of one sort or another will dog him until next year's playoffs, no matter how well he plays this season -- but as we've discussed, whether on the blog, the podcast, or The Triangle, the confidence others feel regarding Pau isn't nearly as important as the confidence he feels in himself.

In that regard, he seems just fine. Not that I expected anything else.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3