Spain fend off France to capture fourth EuroBasket title
BERLIN (Germany) - Spain made their fans sweat but reclaimed their spot atop the continent by defeating France 88-76 in the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Final for the country's fourth title.
In a remake of the EuroBasket 2011 title game, Spain nearly wasted a 21-point lead but the Hernangomez brothers Juancho and Willy combined to score 41 points to lead Spain, who moved into sole possession of the third-most European crowns behind only Soviet Union (14) and Yugoslavia (8).
It was the first time that Spain did not trail by double figure in the Knockout Phase, having had to rally back in their other three games in Berlin.
Willy Hernangomez was awarded the TISSOT Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Joining him on the TISSOT All-Star Five were teammate Lorenzo Brown, France's Rudy Gobert, Germany's Dennis Schroder and Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Turning Point: In front of a crowd of 13,042 spectators, Spain went to the free throw line often early on and grabbed an 18-7 cushion, which was 23-14 after 10 minutes. Spain's outside shooting took center stage in the second quarter - Juancho Hernangomez in particular with four three-pointers in a 12-2 run to open a 35-16 margin. He added two more and the lead swelled to 21 points - 47-26. France poured in the final 11 points of the first half to go into the break down 47-37.
France came racing out of the locker room to complete the 21-2 run spanning the halftime to trim it to 49-48. Spain would increase the lead to 13 points but were up just 66-57 after three quarters. France managed to trim the deficit to 68-61 only to see Juancho Hernangomez hit another three-pointer and Alberto Diaz add two triples to push the lead to 85-70 with less than 2 minutes left.
TCL Player of the Game: Juancho Hernangomez had the game of his life in probably his biggest moment as he hit 7-of-9 three-pointers in scoring 27 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. He is only the second player to score more than five 3-pointers in an EuroBasket Final since 1995 as Aleksandar Djordjevic made 9-of-12 versus Lithuania in 1995.
Stats Don't Lie: Spain drained 15 three-pointers while France could only connect nine times from long range. Spain won the turnover battle 19 to 9 and that decided the game as Spain collected 35 points off those turnovers to just 7 for France.
Bottom Line: Spain have now won four straight EuroBasket Finals (2009, 2011 and 2015) after having lost their previous six title bouts. By doing so, Spain collected their 14th podium finish behind only Soviet Union (21) and Yugoslavia (17). In taking second place, France won their 10th medal in the competition, becoming the sixth team to reach that tally (Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Spain, Czechoslovakia and Italy being the others).
They Said: "It's easy to be happy as a basketball coach. We went into this championship ranked eighth in the power rankings, and we managed to climb step by step. We left behind unbelievable teams - this last one, an incredible team full of top level players, all-stars - at this extremely high level EuroBasket. It's amazing to see the final standings and to see we are above all those great teams. I am happy for the team. It's been a great journey. I feel so happy because we played great basketball - let alone the generosity, the human values which of course fill up your soul. We played great defense, we played great offense. The limitations we have could have led to a sloppy offense, a low-scoring basketball team. We were instead excellent in playing basketball, sharing the ball, a lot of assists, unselfishness, good execution, patience when it was time to be patient, to overcome difficult moments as a team, not just as individuals. I am just happy as a coach." - Spain coach Sergio Scariolo
"It's hard to explain how I feel with words. I am very proud of my teammates, the coaching staff, the whole Spanish federation - from the top to the bottom. We much deserve this gold medal, the way we grew and developed through the tournament. It was something amazing. The trust that was inside the locker room was something special. I'm just so proud, so lucky to be around those guys. Because they trusted me from the beginning. I'm just thankful to be part of this amazing team.."- Willy Hernangomez, Spain
"They played great. They could do most of the things they planned to do on both sides of the floor. We knew that we would be very aggressive. Our pressure was not the same that we did on Friday. Today we have lost the gold. We knew that our weakness was turning the ball over. They scored 35 points from our turnovers and we only scored seven points from theirs. We survived against Turkey and Italy but Spain don’t turn it over. We shot 75 percent in the paint and 40 percent from three - we could not do more. The rest is enough to kill us." - France coach Vincent Collet
"Spain played better from start to finish. They had a clear game plan and we did not execute ours well enough. Too many turnovers, 35 points (off those turnovers). We never really had control of the game. They just played better. Not much more to say." - Evan Fournier, France