Friday, September 29, 2023
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The rubber broke

It’s very difficult to take an early loss, especially when you’re not used to it. The data is really impressive, because if one remembers that Spain was not missing a quarterfinal of any international competition since the 2000 Sydney Olympicscan only feel admiration for an outstanding level consistently maintained for almost a quarter of a century. No one in the world can say this, apart from the United States.. In the twenty tournaments that followed that unfortunate Olympic event, Spain has accumulated, between Eurobasket, World Cups and Games, six gold medals, four silver and another four bronze, plus a fourth place and five eliminations in the quarterfinals .

This time he has touched cross, because the harsh reality has taken us ahead. That Spain is no longer super elite for talent was something we should have been aware of for some time. The best generation in our history went out and, waiting for the maturity of what has been pushing from behind, which looks really good but will have to confirm its potential when the time comes, this interwar period could hardly have been more satisfactory. If the 2019 World Cup already left us speechless, last summer’s Eurobasket was the confirmation of the atrocious competitive nature of the Spanish player and the unusual tactical richness of the national teams. Two totally unnatural titles, clearly unexpected, altering any forecast and ‘power ranking’ that was worth it. Spain stretched the rubber to the extreme, determined to deny the obvious, reaching two gold medals that now acquire an even greater weight when the facts run over you.

The defeat against Canada in the World Cup leaves the team out of the top eight in the tournament. And logically the feeling has to be one of unease for what It has to be described as a fiasco by a team whose only self-demand has led to excellence for more than two decades. However, this one who subscribes does not get that from failure. First, for having witnessed that Scariolo’s team gave themselves until the end, they poured out their last drop of effort to put what, objectively, is the best Canadian team in history on the ropes. Those of the maple leaf, trained by Jordi Fernández and led by that phenomenon called Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (member of the ideal quintet of the last NBA season along with Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid, take stock of what what that means), they have up to 7 players from the best league in the world on their squad. Spain, at this time of September 3, only has one: Santi Aldama. That the physical level of the Canadians is almost unattainable for Spain is something we can count on. That his talent is also noticeably superior is something that hurts us more, but is as true as the fact that water gets wet and the orange ball bounces.

Perhaps for this reason the defeat against Canada, who had already beaten Scariolo’s men in Granada in preparation, should not be surprising. It was a match of maximum difficulty and in which Spain, with its feet on the ground, could not be a favorite in any case. Only tactical tricks and competitive experience equalized the strength, but if you went to the open field and the fray for talent, Canada was far superior. Spain was about to do it again: they stood twelve ahead in the last quarter (73-61) after some wonderful minutes in the third period, but a carbon copy of the match against Latvia occurred again (that defeat should have been avoided) and the 12-27 of the Canadians was one step away from the 11-27 that the enthusiastic Baltic team he had endorsed the Spaniard in the epilogue just two days before. It was with the defeat against Latvia (and Canada’s subsequent defeat against Brazil) that Spain was left without a net, and now it pays for it.

There are positive things to stay with, of course. Is It is exciting to see Juan Núñez, Santi Aldama and Usman Garuba grow, who will be the indisputable pillars of the team for at least a decade. With their pluses and minuses during the tournament (Garuba has been the most consistent of the three) they begin to teach the path of the new generation. And it is nice to see that Spain always competes, that it is almost a chimera to think that someone can take it off the court (the games in which this happened in the 21st century can be counted on the fingers of one hand), with the voracious commitment of its veterans, with Rudy Fernández and Víctor Claver as the best exponents in this Asian event. There is also some but: it was sad to see that Sergio Scariolo did not trust, neither against Latvia nor against Canada, in the team’s offensive capacity. The decisive phase of both games was played with two clearly defensive quintets. It seemed that the man from Brescia thought that the only way to close high-tension and demanding matches was by collapsing his own rim and not thinking about scoring against the opponent. Maybe he was right, but the truth is that the plan backfired and it was Spain whose lights went out.. It could have been a slap on the wrist for the Hernangómez family, especially for Juancho who a priori called important things in this World Cup and it should not be hidden that he has clearly gone from more to less with the passing of the days, just the opposite of what happened in the past Eurobasket.

The future seems exciting, as marked by the successful generations that this summer have triumphed again, and in which there is once again physical capacity and talent such that, if they evolve well, Spain can rise one or two steps in its competitiveness. But now it touches the valley, with the uncertainty of whether or not to participate in the Paris Olympic Games (It sounds very harsh to write it, but it is like that) as we are forced to go through the always complicated pre-Olympic, which will make the next summer very long and will especially call into question the participation of veterans. It is time to thank two unrepeatable decades, but also reflect on the best key to play for the future. The rubber of the best generation of Spanish basketball has definitely broken (much later than many, I the first predicted). The moment of reconstruction arrives.


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