A class apart

Spain beat Argentina, win World Cup; France third

BEIJING, September 15

Spain beat Argentina 95-75 to win the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time since 2006 today, completing a stunning campaign for a squad considered among the rank outsiders when the 32-team tournament began.

Point guard Ricky Rubio racked up 20 points and three assists and Marc Gasol and Willy Hernangomez swatted three shots each as Spain pulled down 47 rebounds, 20 more than Argentina, en route to a comprehensive victory.

For Gasol it was the crowning achievement of an incredible year that saw him win an NBA World Championship with the Toronto Raptors before leading his national team to glory. His 33 points in the semifinal victory over Australia put them in position to fight for the gold medal, but it was his defence that put them on the top step of the podium.

From the opening tip, the 34-year-old dominated the driving lanes to the basket that Argentina had used to such great effect against France. He and Rubio were rewarded for their performances in Spain’s unbeaten run to the gold medal with a place in the tournament’s five-man All-Star team, which was announced after the final.

There was no fairytale ending for  Argentinian Luis Scola, whose superb show against France had helped to carry his side into the final.

The 2019 win for Spain marks the second time they have won the tournament on the Asian soil, having claimed the 2006 title by beating Greece in Saitama, Japan.  Earlier,  Nando De Colo netted 19 points as France shot 43% from behind the arc to take their second consecutive World Cup bronze medal with a 67-59 win over

Australia. — Reuters

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