Spain at the top, the United States at the bottom: the tops and flops of the World Basketball Championship that ended Sunday in Beijing.
Spain: The Iberian selection has won its second title, thirteen years later, confirming the success of the transition after the departure of almost all members of the generation of "Niños de oro", apart from Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez, already champions in 2006. Building on his four NBA players, including Ricky Rubio, MVP of the tournament, and Marc Gasol, she finished undefeated.
Argentina: surprise finalist, the team albiceleste was not even mentioned among the outsiders. She had two exploits against the Serbs in the quarter-finals and the French in half, distraught by their enthusiasm and defensive aggression. She was a worthy heir to the great generation of Manu Ginobili, Olympic champion in 2004 and already finalist of the World Cup in 2002, of which only 39-year-old Luis Scola remained.
France: They will need a little hindsight to appreciate their performance because they believed at one time to be able to go through, but the Blues have confirmed their installation at the highest level by taking the bronze medal as in 2014. They also reported the Olympic ticket, as the second European nation, their stated objective. Their World Cup will remain marked by the historic victory over the United States (89-79) in the quarterfinals, their first on a team 100% NBA. Around Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nando De Colo and Nicolas Batum, they are now targeting a first Olympic podium.
United States: weakened by the defection of all their stars, the Americans finished seventh, their worst place since the creation of the event. The selection of Gregg Popovich also lost to Serbia in the classification match. From the first round, she had come close to humiliation against Turkey. The United States had not been defeated since 2006 (two world titles and two consecutive Olympics). What we knew since the failures of the beginning of the century (Worlds-2002 and 2004 and 2006) has been confirmed. The United States can no longer be content to send twelve NBA players, even if they all have an important role in their franchises, by depriving themselves of the best (there were only two All Star in the team, Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton). But beware of the reaction next year at the Tokyo Games.
Greece: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MVP of the NBA season, was expected as the big star of the tournament. But the Hellenes, absent from the quarterfinals, have never recovered from their missteps in the second game against Brazil (79-78). They also missed their catch-up session against the United States (69-53). The "Greek Freak" itself never managed to change the course of history, despite honorable statistics (14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds).
Serbia: Sacha Djordevic's team was a gold medalist, but after slapping the small nations of the first round, she was unable to avoid the road exit in two consecutive defeats against Spain in the second round (81). -69) then Argentina in the quarter-finals (97-87). NBA All-Star pivot Nikola Jokic was not the expected inspiration (11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists). Sacramento Kings back Bogdan Bogdanovic was the leader of the team (22.9 points).
Australia: The Boomers have finished at the foot of the podium, as at the Rio Games, after a promising start to the tournament. The talented generation of Patty Mills will have one last chance to win a medal at the Tokyo Games next summer.
© 2019 AFP