Spain Takes 2022 EuroBasket Crown

Spain annexed the prestigious FIBA Euro Basket 2022 tournament with a masterful 88-76 Finals win over the Tokyo Olympics silver medalists, France, last week. In what is arguably the most popular cage event next to the Olympic Basketball tourney, the FIBA World Cup and the NBA, the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 featured no less than 3 of the NBA’s Mythical 5 (Nikola Jokic played for Serbia, Giannis Antetokounmpo for Greece, and Luka Doncic for Slovenia), plus a bevy of NBA players to produce a high level of competition that did not disappoint the millions of fans across the globe.

EuroBasket 2022 commenced with a group phase consisting of 6 teams each in 4 pools. The top 4 teams in each pool moved on to the round of 16. With the team reduced to 16, it would be win-or-die, with the losers given the exit door, and the winners – ready or not – advancing to the next round, with no time to rest and no time to whine. EuroBasket 2022 showcased a combination of the NBA’s athletic ability, and the Euro leagues’ unique style and court savvy.

And following the tradition of the brothers Pau and Mark Gasol, it was the brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangomez who led the successful Spanish charge, with Willy voted as tournament MVP, while Juancho would gain top scoring honors in the championship game with a dazzling display of exquisite shooting, scoring 27 points on 7 killer 3-pointers. Naturalized guard Lorenzo Brown also served as an invaluable cog to the team, delivering an average of 7 plus assists per game while producing impressive numbers in all other statistical categories. The French counter-offensive on the other hand was led by defensive specialist, Rudy Gobert, and their prolific scorer, Evan Fournier.  

Selected to the EuroBasket Mythical 5 were: Willy Hernangomez and Lorenzo Brown of Spain, Rudy Gobert of France, Dennis Shroder of Germany, and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece. Current NBA MVP Nikola Jokic failed to make the Fab 5 as Serbia bowed out to Italy 94-86 in the round of 16. So with crowd-favorite Luka Doncic, whose Slovenian team would suffer what I believe was the biggest upset of the tourney, losing to Poland 90-87 in the round of 8. Giannis would exit in the round of 8 as well, as host Germany defeated Greece, 107-96.

In winning 4 of the last 6 Euro Basketball Championships, Spain displayed a steady reservoir of new talents, plus a clear resilience and advanced technical cage savvy to wage war against the best of the best. Despite the retirement of the Gasol brothers, plus the absence of veteran guards Ricky Rubio and Sergio Lull, and the advancing age of captain Rudy Fernandez, Spain has remained on top of its game. There’s a new generation of Spanish players transitioning in seamlessly to take the cudgels for the red-and-gold Spanish colors.

Aside from the talent that is obviously abundant in the playgrounds of Spain, what makes Spain dominant in the Euro league? There are, of course, so many factors that can make or unmake a team. But one of the more underrated factors in the Spanish program is the coach himself, Sergio Scariolo. Coach Sergio is an Italian coach who has served twice as head coach of the Spanish national team, the first from 2009 to 2012; and the second stint from 2015 to the present. Under Coach Sergio, Spain has won at the EuroBasket 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2022, and the bronze medal in 2017. He led the team to the 2019 FIBA World Cup crown, plus a silver at the 2012 Olympics and a bronze at the 2016 Olympics. Sergio’s successes and longevity with the team has led to a better understanding of the system, and a better bonding among the coach and the players. He is like a father-figure to the players, well-respected, and his system and ideas are never questioned.

And there lies the second factor. When asked what was the secret of the Spanish team, tournament MVP Willy Hernangomez did not hesitate to say that the team was like one big, happy family, with everyone rooting for each other. There is no rivalry, no jealousy among players. There is only a strong camaraderie, and a passion to bring home more glory for the country. There is only one goal, one direction, one leader.

The 2022 EuroBasket was a roller-coaster ride with practically all teams having the potential to go all the way to the top. A complacent Spain was upended by Belgium in the early going, giving them a rude wake-up call. People expected Serbia (with Nikola), Greece (with Giannis) and Slovenia (with Luka) to meet in the semifinals. Unfortunately, all 3 were ambushed before they could reach the Final 4, a testament to the high competitive level of each team, and the balance of basketball talent in Europe.

Players also relished the opportunity to show how they could fare with solid NBA stars. And many proved equal to the task. Dennis Schroder’s awesome play – spearheading Germany’s overachieving bronze medal finish – led to an immediate contract-signing with the LA Lakers even before the tournament was done. Lorenzo Brown’s point guard skills did not go unnoticed. Many more players had breakout performances that had NBA scouts and fans drooling. Indeed, there is a wealth of basketball talent in Europe, and this was proven when 3 of the world’s top 5 basketball stars were waylaid – albeit respectfully – in their quest for gold and glory.

This year’s Euro Basket Championship proved to be as exciting in its unpredictability and creativity. And it provided as much entertainment and joy for fans across the globe. To the organizers and players, cheers. Thanks for the great memories.

For a clearer view, just click on the pics. Cover photo, as well as other photos, courtesy of FIBA.Basketball.  


        1. an exciting time to be an Eagles fan! i really haven’t thought about it. last season, i lost a friendly wager with 2 friends who were rooting for the chiefs and the chargers. i was betting on the packers. am thinking of the broncos this year.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, Euro ball ia is a different animal from NBA. In first glance, no one expected Spain to win the trophy, not until they defeated the French side. Even the fact that they made it to the finals is nonetheless surprising but possible. Well, that’s the kind of competition Europe has.

        Liked by 1 person

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