Monday, Sept. 19, 2011
Posted: 8:43 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Follow @CSNBullsInsider
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Their tickets to the 2012 Olympics in London was already punched, by virtue of semifinal wins, but national pride was on the line. Tournament favorite Spain lived up to expectations in Sunday's EuroBasket championship game, holding off Bulls center Joakim Noah and France, 98-85, in Lithuania.
Former NBA guard Juan Carlos Navarro led the victors with a game-high 27 points and five assists, and was aided by an all-around efforts from Lakers All-Star Pau Gasol (17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots) and a relative scoring outburst by Raptors point guard Jose Calderon (17 points) in the final. Spain's advantage in depth and talent was evident, as Mavericks guard Rudy Fernandez (14 points), Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (11 points, six rebounds) and Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (five blocks), a native of the Congo possessing dual citizenship -- teams were allowed to have one naturalized player on the roster; Ibaka was chosen ahead of Bulls draft pick Nikola Mirotic, whose parents hail from Montenegro and France -- all contributed.
For runner-up France, Spurs point guard Tony Parker (team-high 26 points, five assists) again led the way, while Noah (11 points, eight rebounds) and Bobcats forward Boris Diaw (12 points, seven assists, four rebounds) also performed well in the losing effort. Both teams entered the game with one loss each in the tournament; France's loss occurred in second-round competition, at the hands of Spain, a contest which Parker and Noah sat out.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.