After two weeks of intense action, the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup concludes with Spain taking on Argentina in the final.
Spain, which entered this tournament ranked No. 2 in the world, has quietly put together its best FIBA performance since winning the title in 2006. Six of its seven wins have come by 12 points or less, including a 95-88 double-overtime thriller in Friday's semifinal against Australia.
Argentina has been the most consistent team in the World Cup thus far. After picking apart Serbia's defense in a 97-87 win in the quarterfinals, it disposed of France in the semifinal by allowing just 66 points.
The Argentinian squad is playing for their first FIBA World Cup title since losing the championship game to Yugoslavia in 2002.
Spain vs. Argentina Schedule and Odds
Date: Sunday, Sept. 15
Start Time: 8 a.m. ET
Odds: Spain (-4.5)
Spain and Argentina enter Sunday's title game pretty evenly matched. Both teams are led by dynamic pass-first point guards and big men who seemingly age like a fine wine.
On the Spanish side, Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol have been their best players. Gasol carried a heavy burden in the semifinal win over Australia with 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting in 39 minutes.
Coming off a long NBA season that included a title with the Toronto Raptors, Gasol said after the game he felt it was important to be in this tournament for his native country.
"I knew that it would not be easy physically (going from the NBA Finals to the World Cup) but it's definitely worth it," he told reporters. "Not because of the final but passing along those values to the team. It's our turn to pass on the legacy to the next generation (of the Spain team)."
Rubio has made a perfect partner for Gasol to lead La Roja's offense. He had his first double-double of the tournament against Australia with 19 points and 12 assists. The Phoenix Suns guard has also been effective as a shooter, going 11-of-29 from three-point range in seven games.
The semifinal was the first time when Rubio's shot really looked off. He made just six of 19 attempts, his most in a single game in this year's World Cup.
If this matchup turns into a shooting contest, Argentina has a clear advantage because it can turn to Luis Scola, Facundo Campazzo or Patricio Garino when it needs a three-point bucket. Campazzo is also a terrific facilitator who averages 7.7 assists per game.
Looking at common opponents, both teams did a terrific job shutting down the loaded Serbian team.
Serbia's success in this tournament was largely predicated on its shooting ability, including a 41 percent mark behind the arc. Even though Argentina allowed 87 points in its quarterfinal win, the Serbs went just 8-of-28 from three-point range.
Spain fared even better in its 81-69 victory during group play. Serbia scored at least 87 points in its six other games this tournament, and it only connected on 16 percent of its three-point attempts against the Spanish defense.
These are the only teams that advanced through the World Cup with a perfect record (7-0). Their paths to the final have been very different, but there's been no doubt they are the two best teams in the field.
Spain's defensive versatility gives it a slight advantage over Argentina and the inside track to earn its first FIBA World Cup title since 2006.
Prediction: Spain 74, Argentina 68