Spain came into the FIBA World Cup as the host country and the main opposition between the United States and yet another international tournament victory. Therefore, it’s to be expected that Spain sit 3-0 with three convincing group play victories over Iran, Egypt, and Brazil. What may take you by surprise however is that Pau Gasol is leading the entire World Cup in scoring at 23.7 points per game. In 2009? No one blinks twice at that. In 2014? It’s a revelation.
Gasol’s resurgence could partially be explained by his game benefitting from the style of play that FIBA games are conducive to. For instance, with the shorter 3-point-line, Gasol is enough of a threat for defenders to have to come out and guard him, and even at the age of 34 Gasol can blow by any defender his size who has to show that far. Yet, Gasol has shown he can still do much of his damage in the post, on post-ups. FIBA or not, he’s looked like the Gasol of old.
Take Spain’s victory yesterday over Brazil, an 82-63 win in convincing fashion. In that game, Gasol was guarded by three starting caliber big men in Nenê, Tiago Splitter, and Anderson Varejao and Gasol dropped 26 points on 11-15 shooting, pulled down nine rebounds, and swatted away three shots. Gasol dominated offensively and even showed uncanny success on the defensive end.
Gasol’s impressive play and the form he’s shown thus far are fantastic signs for Bulls fans, and the Chicago Bulls organization. Not only the consistency in his performances, but the tenacity and spirit that he’s playing with have been as pleasant a sight that there’s been at the World Cup.
Spain has today off, but take on France tomorrow and Serbia the next day to finish off their games in Group A. While all eyes in America are on Derrick Rose and Team USA, the home country of Spain are giving their locals every reason to believe that a Spain-USA showdown could be as compelling a final game as any basketball fan could ask for.
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- Team USA and Derrick Rose Take on Finland in FIBA Group Stage Opener Today
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