Playing with passion again, Spain beat Argentina 95-75 to win the FIBA World Cup 2019 in China.
This was the Spanish team that won the FIBA 2006 world championship in Japan after Greece upset USA in the semi-final in Saitama. But that golden generation, led by the Gasol brothers, under-achieved in Turkey 2010 and at home in 2014, failing to make the final weekend in Madrid.
Coming into China, many thought they were too old to make their mark on FIBA 2019.
But they beat Tunisia, Puerto Rico, Italy, Serbia and Poland on a march to the semi-finals where they edged Australia in double overtime.
They are playing with precision and passion.
Their offense is flowing with the familiarity of guys who’ve been playing together most of their lives.
Marc Gasol, after lifting the NBA Finals trophy with the Toronto Raptors and famously guzzling a wine bottle during the victory parade, is throwing his weight and elbows around.
After years under or alongside Jose Calderon, veteran guard Ricky Rubio, still only 28 years old, has full control of play-making.
Sergio Llull adds spark when needed.
Rudy Fernandez, 34, is still flying around the rim.
This team has depth, balance and a healthy mix of older and younger players such as the Hernangomez brothers.
It’s a Spanish team that, when hot, can challenge anybody, as they did at the Olympic Finals versus USA in 2008 and 2012.
(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved)