|17 September 2011|
|Juan Carlos Navarro taking (and making) a shot from long range, a scene that was repeated over and over in the Semi-Final. The Spain captain would sign staying pointless in the Final, as long as the team wins gold|
Basketball fans are still mesmerized by the epic display of Juan Carlos Navarro against F.Y.R of Macedonia in the Semi-Final.
The veteran guard erupted for 35 points, including 17 in the decisive third quarter, to fire Spain to a 92-80 triumph in Kaunas that put the defending champions back in the EuroBasket final for a third straight year.
The Spain captain isn't getting carried away by his performance but rather taking it in his stride because there is still one huge clash, the most important, coming up against France.
"We will still have 40 minutes and we have to give everything," he said. "We cannot let this opportunity go by.
"We are of course happy that we reached our first aim which was to qualify for the Olympics in London but we have a chance to go for gold and that was our mission from the very beginning."
Sergio Scariolo's men may have made things look easy by winning nine of their 10 games in Lithuania.
But Navarro says that's not been the case at all.
"It's been a tough tournament," Navarro said. "We've played many games, many minutes and every game has been a test."
No challenge was greater than the one presented by F.Y.R of Macedonia.
"It was a very complicated game," Navarro said. "F.Y.R. of Macedonia deserved to be in the last four.
"They may not have had the big basketball name as other nations but they play as a true team.
"Their way of playing is difficult to defend.
"It really became difficult for us but in the third quarter we came out very focused."
That was the time when the 31-year-old Navarro came out and delivered arguably one of his best performances as a player.
"I saw the rim very big and I knew that wherever I would shoot, I would get it in," said the Barcelona star.
"It happens sometimes.
"It was probably one of the best performances of my career."
Scariolo wasn't surprised by the Spain captain's latest points explosion.
"Navarro has certain nights where he is a masterpiece," he said. "He is in a world of his own and it feels as though he is not from this planet.
"He is an artist of basketball in Europe."
Despite the praise he has received, Navarro would trade it all in just to be able to lift Sunday's trophy.
"I would sign not to score a point against France as long as we win gold," he said.
"However, I will continue to take my shots."