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.”


England try to deny Ireland a Grand Slam

Updated 22 February 2020

England try to deny Ireland a Grand Slam

  • This will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August

TWICKENHAM: Owen Farrell will attempt to end the Grand Slam hopes of father Andy when England face Ireland in the Six Nations.

Sunday’s match at Twickenham will be the first time the pair have been in opposition since Andy Farrell was appointed Ireland head coach following the team’s disappointing first-round exit at the World Cup.

Promoted from within the setup after Joe Schmidt stood down, Farrell senior has yet to lose as Ireland boss following wins over Scotland and Six Nations title-holders Wales.

Those victories have left the former England dual code international’s current side just 80 minutes away from a Triple Crown.

But they will have to first get past a home team captained by son Owen, with the center a key figure in England’s run to the World Cup final in Japan both as skipper and first-choice goalkicker.

England coach Eddie Jones brought Andy Farrell into rugby union from rugby league while at Saracens, only to dispense with the then assistant coach when he succeeded Stuart Lancaster as Red Rose boss following the hosts’ group-stage departure at the 2015 World Cup. 

The Farrells have grown weary of talking about the family dynamics involved when they are on opposite sides.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray praised younger Farrell.  “I’ve played against Owen and toured with him with the (British and Irish) Lions. He’s an incredible player. Even with knowledge of the way he plays, he’s still able to pick the right options — that’s what makes him really hard to defend and analyze,” he said.

England haven’t been quite the same side since a stunning World Cup semifinal win over reigning champions New Zealand was followed a week later by a crushing 32-12 defeat by South Africa.

They then suffered a 24-17 loss away to France in their Six Nations opener before a hard-fought 13-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

Jones has shuffled his backs, with Elliot Daly returning to full-back after George Furbank suffered a recurrence of a longstanding hip and groin problem.

Jonathan Joseph, normally a center, will mark his 50th Test cap by making his first start in the wing berth vacated by Daly.

Both Daly and Joseph can expect plenty of aerial bombardment from Ireland in a match where an England win would put them right back in title contention.

But Jones said Daly would cope and that Joseph was “a great defender,” with “good jumping skills.”

Powerhouse center Manu Tuilagi returns after overcoming the minor groin suffered in the defeat by France, while Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs is restored to the starting line for what will be the scrum-half’s 100th international appearance, his 98 England caps supplemented by two for the Lions.

In the pack, Courtney Lawes moves from lock to blindside flanker, with Jones explaining the switch by saying: “Ireland have got a lot of good carriers... One of Courtney’s strengths is his ruck defense.”

Meanwhile Joe Marler comes in at loose-head prop, with Mako Vunipola missing for family reasons.

Ireland were forced into making a late alteration on Friday to what had been an unchanged team when lock Iain Henderson pulled out, his place taken by Devin Toner.

This will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August.

Ireland, though, completed a Grand Slam at ‘headquarters’ two years ago.

And if they can deny England their favored fast start, while the likes of Tadhg Furlong get on top on the scrum, the Irish could yet enjoy another memorable win.