Gasol drives battling Spain into Basketball World Cup final

Marc Gasol of Spain places a jump-shot over Australian players, from left, Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, during the FIBA Basketball World Cup semifinal at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing. (AP Photo)
Updated 13 September 2019

Gasol drives battling Spain into Basketball World Cup final

  • Gasol, the Toronto Raptors center, finished with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists after stepping up late in a breathtaking game when his country needed him most
  • The Spaniard played a key role in the Raptors’ historic run to the NBA crown and knows that victory on Sunday will cap the perfect season

BEIJING: NBA champion Marc Gasol saved Spain on Friday as they battled back to beat Australia 95-88 after a second overtime period and reach the Basketball World Cup final.
They will face Argentina, who accounted for France in the other semi, in Sunday’s decider in Beijing.
A thrilling semifinal was 71-71 at the end of regulation time and the two sides could not be separated at the end of a nervy first overtime.
Finally, the 2006 world champions Spain jubilantly emerged after the Boomers appeared to run out of juice.
Sergio Llull hit two three-pointers in the second overtime for Spain to cap their comeback.
Gasol, the Toronto Raptors center, finished with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists after stepping up late in a breathtaking game when his country needed him most.
“We came back, we stuck together through tough times, that means a lot,” said the 34-year-old, a three-time NBA All-Star.
The Spaniard played a key role in the Raptors’ historic run to the NBA crown and knows that victory on Sunday will cap the perfect season.
“It’s been great, I have been very fortunate,” he said.
“I knew that it would not be easy physically (going from the NBA Finals to the World Cup) but it’s definitely worth it.
“Not because of the final but passing along those values to the team. It’s our turn to pass on the legacy to the next generation (of the Spain team).”
Ricky Rubio was also pivotal once more for Spain with 19 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and four steals.
Red-hot Patty Mills was unfortunate to be on the losing side, leading Australia with 34 points.
The Australians, who had never gone beyond the quarter-finals in 11 previous World Cups, had the whiff of revenge in their nostrils — and a first final.
Spain edged the Boomers 89-88 in the bronze-medal match at the Rio 2016 Olympics and the Australians had waited three long years to get their own back.
In San Antonio Spurs livewire Mills they had one of the players of the World Cup and his three-pointer midway through the second quarter put Australia 27-22 in front.
The in-form guard pulled off the same trick with 88 seconds left on the clock in the second quarter to give Australia a 37-32 advantage at the break.
But Spain slashed the lead to four points going into the fourth quarter and then just two points with 3:44 left.
Spain were just one point behind with 28 seconds to run and they had the momentum. Gasol, nerves of steel, nailed two free throws to put Spain up 71-70.
Mills then made one free throw with four seconds left but missed the other and the match was level at the end of regulation time.
Despite the crushing disappointment, Australia will need to raise themselves for Sunday’s bronze-medal match and this is still their best World Cup performance.
Coach Andrej Lemanis called it “a hell of a game of basketball and fun to be involved with.”
“Tough to lose, no doubt, it comes down to a couple of plays here and there,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we had chances to win the game, we had every opportunity to win the game.”


Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

Updated 19 January 2020

Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

  • Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions

JEDDAH: Renowned Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras scored all his side’s goals as Amaala hammered out an emphatic 7-3 victory over host team AlUla to win the Kingdom’s first-ever desert polo tournament on Saturday at AlUla UNESCO heritage site.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, presented the trophy to Amaala after the final.

The event forms part of Winter at Tantora festival, featuring international polo players, who had the experience of playing on compacted desert sand instead of grass amid the stunning surroundings at AlUla.

The Royal Commission of AlUla organized the three-day tournament in cooperation with the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation.

In winning the tournament, Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions.

Players from all over the world took part, including team members from the world famous La Dolfina polo outfit from Argentina, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough.

In the match for third place, Al Nahla Bentley defeated Team Richard Mille 4-2 with Sheikha Alya Maktoum scoring a hat trick of goals.

Figueras said: “It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, an amazing heritage and an amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation. I’m very honored to be here and I’m delighted that we were able to win.

“This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

Mac Donough added: “For us it was a completely new place; polo-wise Saudi Arabia wasn’t something we were doing before. Having the chance to come to such an amazing country and having the chance to play a tournament and promote the sport, all this makes us feel very proud and we hope we can continue it.”

Saudi Polo Federation chairman, Amr F. Zedan, who played for Team Richard Mille during the tournament, said: “I see this event as a launching pad for the future. We have big plans for polo in Saudi Arabia that include the establishment of development programs and the construction of facilities to assist in building a polo infrastructure in The Kingdom.”

Amr Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla, said: “Our tourism strategy for AlUla has been built around certain anchors — heritage, culture, nature and arts. Equestrianism has always been a key industry for us, and the surroundings here make AlUla one of the best locations to ride horses.”