The Spaniards were so happy about the victory of the basketball players except when the national team became the world champion for the first time in 2006. After that, the victories of Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and their comrades became almost everyday. In the 2009, 2011 and 2015 European Championships, in the 2019 World Championships, the Spanish flag was repeatedly raised and the Spanish anthem was played to honor the champions.
However, the golden generation gradually stepped down from the basketball podium. Multiple champions were replaced by other basketball players who were called less talented and promising. This year, a significantly rejuvenated national team traveled to the European championships, which was linked to the generation of winners only by 37-year-old Rudy Fernandez and coach Sergio Scariolo.
The Spanish national team was no longer called the favorite, but the basketball players did not care about the predictions. On Sunday, in the final of the European Championships, the Spaniards defeated the French team 88:76 and became the champions of the continent for the fourth time.
“Golden lesson! They did what seemed impossible!” – shouted the Madrid sports daily “Marca” on the cover on Monday, congratulating the basketball players.
The covers of other publications were no less eloquent. “Golden giants,” Barcelona sports daily Sport wrote in capital letters. “Golden swimming”, another Barcelona sports daily “El Mundo Deportivo” described another victory of the basketball players. “Like in a movie!” – compared the Madrid sports daily “As”. “That’s how the Family hits!” – the Valencian sports daily “Superdeporte” printed on the cover, reminding the unofficial name of the basketball team “La Familia” that has become popular in Spain in recent years.
National publications that do not write about sports were not far behind. The photo of the triumphant Spanish basketball players was printed on the front page of all the country’s most important dailies. In several publications, the winning photo occupied more than half of the front page.
“The most unexpected gold medals became a reality in Berlin, where the biggest surprise in the history of Spanish basketball was created. Any loudest words would not be enough to describe this feat, as a team that seemed completely earthly, did something supernatural – defeated the French national team in the final and won the European Championship, which is called the strongest in history. This epic is worthy of books and films,” Marca admired the basketball team.
“The Spanish national team had to overcome many adversities: the best basketball players ended their careers, refused to play or suffered injuries. The team lacked stars, but it had twelve incredible masters who became a real team in the hands of coach Sergio Scariolo. This team has a winning gene that is passed down from generation to generation. Now led by Juancho Hernangomez, who hit seven 3-pointers in the Finals, including six in a memorable second half. Like Pau Gasol, who scored 40 points before, or Juan Carlos Navarro, who played with one leg… Or Jaime Fernandez, who didn’t score a point in the last three games, but scored 13 points in the finals and grabbed like crazy. Or Usman Garuba and Alberto Diaz, who built defensive fortresses. Or Willy Hernangomez and Lorenzo Brown, who were chosen as the most valuable player of the tournament, who announced a new era”, Marca called the country’s new basketball heroes.
“Twelve apostles of the impossible feat,” Marca christened the champion team in the headline.
The “alchemist from Brescia” – the Italian coach Sergio Scariolo – helped the “twelve apostles” to create the feat. “During the two periods he coached the national team (2009-2012 and 2015-2022), he won five gold, one silver and two bronze medals in international tournaments,” calculated El Mundo Deportivo.
The Italian basketball specialist has not been a stranger to the Spaniards for a long time, not only because he coaches the national team. He is married to former Spanish basketball player Blanca Ares, and the Scariolo family lives in Malaga.
In addition to the fact that most of the players of the golden generation ended their careers, the Spanish national team also counted other losses this summer. Ricky Rubio suffered a serious injury, several other basketball players included in S. Scariolo’s list of candidates refused to play due to one or another pain.
As many as nine players who had not represented Spain in any of the major tournaments came to the European Championship.
“Hungry for basketball, these young, healthy and extremely modest men became the national team,” As wrote. – The team welcomed Lorenzo Brown as one of the family members, who became like the icing on the cake.
A memorable feat raised the team’s values above the stars, who had to surrender to the strongest team in these European championships, which defeated three demons from the group of death on the way to the top: Lithuania, Germany and, finally, France”.
“The music played on the first of September, and Spain, defying all predictions, danced until the very end,” wrote “As”.
“It was a triumph for an incredible team that was not mentioned among the four favorites before the European Championship. They did not think that they were weaker than others, even during the final match against the French team, where basketball players of impressive skill played.
In the most difficult moments, they always revealed their best qualities. The more difficult the result, the more confident and focused they became under the guidance of the four-time European champion coach. The team believed in themselves from the start. Talks about the naturalization of Lorenzo Brown stopped very quickly, as soon as the key role of the offensive player in strengthening the unity of the team became clear,” El Mundo Deportivo wrote.
“Victory is created not only by a combination of names, but primarily by spirit, trust, unity and effort. This team can teach everyone what a team should be,” El Mundo Deportivo added.
“Lessons from the Master”
The Spanish national team has won six gold medals at major tournaments throughout its history. The Spanish became European champions four times and world champions twice. All golden teams were tied by one person – Rudy Fernandez.
On Sunday, he was awarded his eleventh medal won for Spain. According to this number, R. Fernandez has overtaken another Spanish basketball legend, Pau Gasol. It is true that Mr. Gasol has fewer gold medals.
“R.Fernandez became the champion of the continent for the fourth time and by this number he surpassed the former players of the USSR national team Sergej Belov and Modesta Paulauskas and the Serbian Predrag Danilović.” Only another former member of the USSR national team, Gennady Volnov, is ahead, who became the champion six times,” Marca reminded.
It is almost impossible to overtake G. Volnova, the record holder of the European championships, not only because of the increased competition these days. Until the last decade, the continental championships were held every two years, but now they are held less often – every four years.
“The medal won by Rudy this year is special and has a lot of sentimental spice. It was won after the basketball player lost his father a few months ago (R. Fernandez’s father died of cancer in the spring – editor’s note), so it is dedicated to him. In addition, the captain lifted the cup wearing the shirt of his friend Sergio Llull. “S. Llullis could not play in the European championships due to the injury he suffered just before the trip to Georgia,” Marca wrote.
“R. Fernandez could not go to the European championships for a thousand personal, professional and health reasons. However, he was involved and was a special role model for those making their debut in the big tournament. For them, every day spent in the national team was a lesson in Maestro Fernandez’s highest craftsmanship,” Marca bowed to the national team’s spiritual leader.
“He was expected to have a head, order and determination. At the age of 37, he gave all this and much more,” “As” thanked the captain of the national team.