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For Spain, almost all the names of the national team have changed in recent years. Expectations did not. And neither are the results. The Toronto Raptors’ Juancho Hernangomez scored 27 points, his brother Willy Hernangomez added 14 and earned tournament MVP honors, and Spain outscored France 88-76 on Sunday to claim the gold medal of the EuroBasket.

It was Spain’s fourth European Championship in their last six tries, with all those gold medals won by coach Sergio Scariolo.

“It’s easy to say we’re extremely happy,” Scariolo said. “We entered this championship in eighth place in the power rankings and we managed to climb, step by step. … It’s amazing now to see that we are above all these great teams.”

Lorenzo Brown scored 14 points and 11 assists for Spain, while Jaime Fernandez netted 13.

Evan Fournier led France – who also dropped out of the gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics in the United States last summer – with 23 points, Thomas Heurtel scored 16 and Guerschon Yabusele added 13 .

Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves had just six points on just two shots from the field for France.

“Spain played better from start to finish,” said Fournier, who plays with the New York Knicks. “They had a clear game plan and we didn’t execute ours well enough. … We never really had control of the game. They just played better, man, period.”

It was supposed to be a rebuilding summer for Spain. Pau and Marc Gasol, the program’s longtime leaders, retired from international duty after a quarter-final loss to the United States at the Tokyo Games.

Sergio Gonzalez also decided last summer was the right time to leave, after 16 years with the national team. Sergio Llull and Ricky Rubio, two other veterans, were unable to play due to injuries.

The winning tradition just continued anyway. Spain is now the reigning Basketball World Cup (won in China in 2019) with the EuroBasket champion. He has also won 10 of his last 11 EuroBasket appearances.

“It’s hard to put into words how I feel,” said Willy Hernangomez, who plays in the NBA for New Orleans. “I am extremely proud of my teammates, of my coaching staff, of the entire Spanish federation from top to bottom. We deserve this gold medal.

But this young squad also had the exuberance of youth: as Scariolo and Willy Hernangomez attempted to hold a post-match press conference, the rest of the Spanish outfit crashed the session, armed with water bottles, and soaked the MVP and his coach.

“That’s the dark side of having a young squad,” Scariolo said, happily dabbing his face with a towel. “I don’t see Pau Gasol throwing water.”

For France, it was another medal – and another example of falling short of the brightest medal. France’s last major crown came by winning the EuroBasket in 2013. Since then, the French have won two World Cup bronzes (2014, 2019), a EuroBasket bronze (2015), a medal silver at the Tokyo Olympics and now a silver medal again.

The difference was clear: Spain held a massive 35-7 advantage in points on turnovers.

“Today obviously we lost the gold,” said France team coach Vincent Collet. “They executed their plan perfectly.”

Juancho Hernangomez was 6-for-6 from 3-point range in 6 minutes of the second quarter, helping Spain extend their 23-14 lead into a 45-26 advantage with just 3 minutes left in the half .

It was perhaps a slightly unlikely source for a 3-point shoot-off. He had made a total of 12 3s in his previous eight games in this year’s EuroBasket tournament, and his record in any NBA game is six.

“We needed him today and he was there for us,” said Willy Hernangomez.

An 11-0 run helped France reduce what had been a 21-point deficit to just 47-37 at halftime – and the momentum carried into the third quarter.

The Yabusele jumper with 6:52 to go in the third put France at 49-46, and everything seemed to change.

But Spain held firm. Juancho Hernangomez’s seventh 3-pointer with 7:29 to go made it 71-61, and the result was clear.

“I couldn’t be happier as a basketball coach,” Scariolo said.


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