Heroes Welcomed Home

21.09.2011

EuroBasket 2011

Pau Gasol celebrating with the crowd in Madrid
EuroBasket All Tournament Team member Pau Gasol and his teammates were welcomed frenetically in Madrid

Thousands of fans in Madrid welcomed home Spain's national team after their second consecutive EuroBasket gold-medal triumph.

Sergio Scariolo's team beat France 98-85 in the gold-medal clash on Sunday night in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Less than 24 hours later, tournament MVP Juan Carlos Navarro and his teammates were being driven through the Spanish capital in open top bus until they arrived at the historic Plaza del Callao.

A big stage was erected and everyone in the team had a chance to speak to the crowd.

"I feel proud to be a part of this team," said Navarro, who heard chants of "MVP, MVP" as he spoke.

"I want to thank the people who watched us on TV and those that work hard every month, this is also for them."

Felipe Reyes, whose father passed away just a few weeks before the EuroBasket, paid tribute to everyone in the squad.

He was given the chance to accept the EuroBasket Trophy first before presenting it to Navarro.

"I want to thank my teammates for their support," said Reyes, "for giving me the opportunity to lift the European Cup, especially for Juan Carlos who is a great captain and a wonderful person who was responsible for me lifting the cup and being able to dedicate it to my father."

The champagne had flowed on the court and in the changing room after the victory, and even more of bubbly was sprayed during the party in Madrid.

The players, coaches and federation officials were also received in the Moncloa Palace by Spain President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who said to them: "You are legends to Spanish people and to basketball.

9. Tony Parker (France)
Tony Parker and the French team have all reason to celebrate their silver medal and a berth at the Olympics

France had a superb EuroBasket and returned home to a heroes' welcome in Paris.

In Paris, hundreds of supporters greeted the French players as they stepped out of a bus on the Champs-Élysées.

Among those to hear cheers was Tony Parker, who was voted to the all-tournament team.

He had been instrumental in getting Les Bleus to the title game, which qualified them for the London Games.

"This is my best souvenir with the French team," Parker said.

"The bronze medal in 2005 was beautiful because it had been 50 years since the French team had reached the podium.

"But this one has qualified us for the Olympic Games and it's been 10 years since I have been chasing this and I have realized my dream."


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