Spain Suffer Again At EuroBasket

25.09.2005

By Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA Sport

Tears are falling in the changing room of Spain again.

It happened at EuroBasket 2003, when Pau Gasol and Co lost to Lithuania in the final.

And it happened last summer when Team USA knocked out Spain in the quarter-finals, their first defeat of the Olympics, ending their hopes of a medal.

Juan Carlos Navarro had matched Dirk Nowitzki for brilliance in this year's semi-final, with each scoring 27 points in a thrilling EuroBasket clash.

Tonight, we have to experience the bitter side of sports, just as yesterday we experienced the good side
Carlos Jimenez

But the German's basket with 3.9 seconds left gave his team a 74-73 win, ending the gold medal hopes of Spain again.

It is the fourth time in as many EuroBaskets that Spain entered the medal round and failed to capture the title.

Carlos Jimenez, the Spain captain, said to PA Sport: "Both teams had chances to win but at the crucial moment of the game, a great player like Nowitzki emerged.

"He made several shots against a good Spanish defence and there is very little you can do when faced with that situation.

"Tonight, we have to experience the bitter side of sports, just as yesterday we experienced the good side."

Spain beat Croatia in an overtime thriller on Friday.

"We need to forget as soon as possible this defeat and concentrate because tomorrow, we still have a chance to win a medal and that is what we have to look forward to," Jimenez said.

Next up for Spain is France in the bronze medal game.

"It will not be easy, but we are determined to go home with a medal," Jimenez said.

Gasol, an NBA star with the Memphis Grizzlies, did not play in this EuroBasket in order to rest a foot injury, but he did watch every second of every game as a television commentator.

He told PA Sport: "It's a blow to lose, but it's even harder when it's just by one point because only one point separates you from the big game of the EuroBasket.

"I guess this is part of basketball."

When asked if Nowitzki had killed off Spain with his superlative effort, Gasol said: "He scored 27 points just as Juan Carlos did.

"It's not as if scored 50 points. He has done his job, and he made the last important shot.

"But our failure really was the fact that we haven't scored any three-pointers, and if your rivals do, it's bad news for you."

Spain made just two of 19 (11%) from behind the arc whereas Germany were 13 of 33 (39%), with Nowitzki burying five of 10.

Gasol knows it is going to be hard to recover from the setback.

"It will be an interesting game," he said. "It's important for us to get a medal because at least it leaves you with a good taste in your mouth."

As for the final between Germany and Greece, Gasol predicted: "It's going to be a very open final."


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