KAUNAS (EuroBasket 2011) – Juan Carlos Navarro led Spain to back-to-back EuroBasket titles, scoring 27 points on a night when four of his team-mates joined him in double figures as they knocked over France
As he has done throughout the tournament, Navarro once more led Spain to glory but perhaps the bigger story was the support he received compared to French star Tony Parker.
The San Antonio Spurs guard finished the night as France’s top scorer with 26 points but, with two of his three team-mates who also scored in double-digits – Joakim Noah and Nicolas Batum – allowing themselves to get in foul trouble early in a heated affair, it turned out to be long night at the office for France as they failed in their bid to win their first-ever EuroBasket gold medal.
With the two teams trading even blows over the opening 10 minutes, it was in the second quarter that the game really began to heat up as Serge Ibaka announced his arrival in the game in style and Rudy Fernandez earned himself the wrath of the French nation.
Going unnoticed in three minutes of playing time in the opening quarter, Ibaka roared to life in the first five minutes of the second frame, swatting five shots and scoring four points to see his side out to a 40-31 lead.
But with a minute and a half to play before halftime, Fernandez unintentionally provided the spark France needed as they trailed by 12 points.
With Parker going for a lay-up, Fernandez yanked him out of the air, earning himself an unsportsmanlike foul while leaving Parker lying momentarily motionless on the court.
To the relief of everyone, Parker got back to his feet and his team then ran off seven unanswered points to get back into the game.
Spain however scored the last four points before the break to push their advantage back up to nine, 50-41.
Fernandez finished the game with 14 points while Ibaka did not add to his second-quarter tally, but played an integral part in Spain's win.
France were no doubt weary of what Navarro had been doing to opposing teams in the third quarter of games during the tournament and, despite their best efforts, 'La Bomba' lit up once more, scoring nine points in the period to see his team out to a commanding 13-point lead with 10 minutes to play.
France kept on fighting valiantly in the final period, but ultimately they were left with the same losing feeling dished out to their Davis Cup tennis team by the Spanish earlier in the day.