Basketball star becomes only second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year
Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol became only the second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year after Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 yesterday.
Spain, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize a second time.
The only previous occasion was in 2006 with the two Gasol brothers, Marc and older sibling Pau, on the team. Pau did not feature in China because of injury.
The latest triumph was particularly sweet for the 34-year-old centre Gasol, who three months ago also played a key part in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title.
Gasol, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, joins Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the United States and LA Lakers.
Surprise finalists Argentina had not triumphed since they hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1950.
As a contest, the final was over by the fourth quarter — although the Argentines did rally belatedly to reduce Spain’s previously mighty lead.
Fans of both teams had made it feel more like a football match, decked out in their national colours, chanting loudly and refusing to sit down.
Spain, for whom Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the leading players of the tournament in China, surged into a 14-2 lead.
In front of a capacity crowd, Argentina’s 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola could not escape the attentions of Pierre Oriola.
Led by their slick-haired Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, Spain were up 21-14 going into the second quarter and increased their advantage to 43-31 at half-time.