Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Spain Defeat Argentina to Win 2019 FIBA World Cup

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2019

Spain's Ricky Rubio (L) dribbles past Argentina's Tayavek Gallizzi during the Basketball World Cup final game between Argentina and Spain in Beijing on September 15, 2019. (Photo by WANG ZHAO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
WANG ZHAO/Getty Images

Spain are the FIBA World Cup champions yet again.

The Spaniards cruised in the gold medal game against Argentina, winning 95-75, claiming their second ever FIBA World Cup title. The Spanish previously won the tournament in 2006, topping Greece. 

Ricky Rubio played the starring role, scoring 20 points while adding three assists. But it was a team performance through-and-through, with Sergio Llull (15 points) and Marc Gasol (14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, two steals) also putting together excellent performances.

In total, six different players scored double-digit points for Spain, while the team's defense held Argentina to 36 percent shooting from the field, blocking eight shots and posting nine total steals. 

Gabriel Deck valiantly tried to keep Argentina in the game, scoring 24 points, but his efforts were in vain against a Spanish side that simply boasted more talent. Nicolas Laprovittola added 17 points in the loss.

Spain did a brilliant job of containing Luis Scola, who was having an excellent tournament, holding him to eight points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field. With the 39-year-old held in check, the Argentines didn't have the firepower to trade punches with Spain.

At a tournament marked by the major disappointments of its favorites, the United States and Serbia, Spain reminded its doubters that it was more than a second-tier team on the international stage. 

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Nonetheless, this tournament will be remembered for more than just its champions. There was the glut of NBA talent that decided against participating, in particular weakening countries like the United States, Canada and Australia. There was also the major surprise of Serbia and the United States finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, and meeting after both losing in the quarterfinals rather than playing for the title, as expected. 

So disappointing were the Americans, in particular, that none of their players were even named to the All-Tournament team:

But Spain were the story on Sunday, and while Rubio was the team's best player and tournament MVP, Gasol is in the midst of a pretty legendary year:

It's hard to top domestic and international titles in the same year. And for a Spanish side that has finished on the medal podium at three straight Olympics, all without winning gold, Sunday's victory—13 years after first winning the World Cup—is a crowning moment for the golden era of Spanish basketball. 

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