Belgian Lions meet a world champion in transition phase with basketball superpower Spain | European Basketball Championship

Belgian Lions meet a world champion in transition phase with basketball superpower Spain | European Basketball Championship
Belgian Lions meet a world champion in transition phase with basketball superpower Spain | European Basketball Championship

Spain is the current number 2 in the world ranking and the current world champion.

At the last European Championship in 2017, the Spaniards had to make peace with bronze, after European titles in 2009, 2011 and 2015. At this tournament, Spain can take a medal for the 7th European Championship in a row.

Spain easily qualified for this European Championship, although it lost twice in the preliminary rounds against Poland and Israel.

Spain crowned itself world champion in 2019, the icing on the cake of a golden generation. Little remains of the team that won the world title 3 years ago at this European Championship. With the exception of experienced hand Rudy Fernandez and the Hernangomez brothers, they are all different faces in the Spanish selection.

So no more Sergio Rodriguez or Marc Gasol; his older brother Pau had already stopped before the 2019 World Cup.

Also no Ricky Rubio or Sergio Llull at this European Championship: they are both in the basket. It had been clear for some time that Rubio (Cleveland Cavaliers) would not be fit, Llull – the guts of Real Madrid – injured himself in the run-up to this tournament. Loyal soldiers Alex Abrines and Victor Claver are also not among them.

Spain has therefore – somewhat forced – to the European Championship with a new generation, of which the NBA brothers Juancho and Willy Hernangomez should be two spearheads. The team is directed by naturalized American guard Lorenzo Brown.

Furthermore, the Spaniards still count on the ever reliable Rudy Fernandez, who at the age of 37 is the only survivor of the golden Spanish generation. The young center Usman Garuba (Houston Rockets) is also a name to keep an eye on.

The coach who must steer the generational change at the Spaniards in the right direction is 61-year-old Sergio Scariolo.

The Italian master tactician has headed the Spanish squad since 2015, had a major share in the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 NBA title as an assistant, and is regarded as one of the best coaches in international basketball.

Compared to the past few years, the Spaniards have lost some quality, but it speaks volumes that Scariolo can still count on a string of players from the NBA or European top clubs. Add to that the class of the Italian top coach and you know that Spain is still one of the medal candidates at this European Championship.

Another thing: those who would like a taste of Juancho Hernangomez can also visit Netflix. The Toronto Raptors player recently starred in the basketball movie “Hustle,” in which he is led to the NBA as young talent Bo Cruz by a basketball scout (played by Adam Sandler).

belgian lions at EK basketball

program group a
01/09 Belgium Georgia 79-76
03/09 Montenegro Belgium 76-70
04/09 Spain Belgium 4.15 pm
06/09 Belgium Turkey 1.30 pm
07/09 Bulgaria Belgium 4.15 pm
standing in group a
m W V +/- ptn
1. Spain 2 2 0 +53 4
2. Turkey 2 2 0 +18 4
3. Montenegro 2 1 1 +2 3
4. Belgium 2 1 1 -3 3
5. Georgia 2 0 2 -29 2
6. Bulgaria 2 0 2 -41 2

The top 4 advance to the 1/8th finals. The European Championship is organized in Germany, Georgia, Italy and the Czech Republic. The Belgian Lions play their group matches in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

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