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The World Cup in China is one we're going to savor for a long time
VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - The dust has settled on the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, an event that will live long in our memories for many reasons.
I never believed it possible the 2006 World Cup could be equalled because that 24-team event was special. There were a lot of great games, from Dirk Nowitzki’s 47-point outburst in a triple overtime win over Angola in Hiroshima to Greece’s 101-95 upset of the USA in the Semi-Finals in Saitama.
The other Semi-Final between Spain and Argentina was incredible, too. Manu Ginobili dribbled into the lane in the final seconds and whipped a pass to Andres Nocioni in the right corner, who shot right before the buzzer. The basketball gods didn’t smile on Argentina that night, though, with Nocioni’s attempt only drawing iron as Spain won, 75-74.
Rudy Fernandez underlined his status as one of Spain's greatest ever with his gritty performances in China
How unbelievably wonderful it was that 13 years later, a member of that Argentina team, Luis Scola, made the All-Star Five in China and we were even more nostalgic since two of Spain’s key players this summer, Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez, were also in the 2006 title-winning side.
Gasol and tournament MVP Ricky Rubio made the 2019 All-Star Five with Scola, while Fernandez, maybe his country’s most under appreciated star of all time, was given the honor of lifting the Naismith Trophy after the medal ceremony.
Scola’s inclusion to the All-Star Five perhaps masked something important. We'd thought Argentina’s golden generation, the team that almost won the 2002 World Cup and did win the 2004 Olympic title, could never be equalled again. Now there is hope that a new golden generation could arrive, at least if Facundo Campazzo, Nicolas Laprovittola, Gabriel Deck and Luca Vildoza continue to play as well as they did this summer for their country.
Campazzo was unlucky not to make the All-Star Five himself. It’s impossible not to fall in love with his game because he was like a Leo Messi on the court with his abundance of flair, including his behind the back passes from the perimeter!
China 2019, with it 32 teams, was the biggest international basketball extravaganza of all time. We’re going to remember a lot, those of us among the 800,000 spectators at the games and also those within the three billion global TV reach..
Remember that crazy Puerto Rico win over Iran?
How about the mind-numbing drama of Poland’s overtime triumph against China?
What about the surprising Czech Republic and their run to the Quarter-Finals, or France’s Evan Fournier-fueled triumph over the USA?
The USA couldn't stop Fournier, who had 22 points in France's 89-79 win in the Quarter-Finals
There was Argentina’s master-class performance to beat Serbia in the Quarter-Finals.
Spain won a dramatic double-overtime game against Australia in the Semi-Finals. There was also France’s come-from-behind triumph over the Boomers in the Third-Place Game when they got not just clutch performances from veterans Nando de Colo and Nicolas Batum but also Andrew Albicy, the unheralded point guard who shone in the European Qualifiers and proved he belonged on the big stage.
Yes, we remember great tournaments from the past, like 2006 in Japan and 2010 in Turkey. The 2014 World Cup had plenty of special moments, too.
Teams also served up a beauty at the World Cup in China, an event that we’re never going to forget.
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