BEIJING — Spain has captured its second World Cup championship, defeating Argentina 95-75 on Sunday to give Marc Gasol a rare double-title year.
Tournament MVP Ricky Rubio scored 20 points and Sergio Llull added 15 for Spain (8-0), the ninth team to make it through a World Cup or world championship unbeaten. Gasol scored 14 for the winners, who never trailed.
For Gasol, it was historic.
The Toronto Raptors centre becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year, joining Lamar Odom — who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in 2010.
Gasol is also the 19th to win either an NBA or WNBA crown along with a gold medal, either of the Olympic or World Cup variety, in the same year. And he’s the first to accomplish that feat while representing a nation other than the U.S.
When Spain won its first title in 2006, it was Pau Gasol — Marc’s older brother — leading the way. This time, it was the not-so-little brother who led his nation to gold, hoisting the World Cup trophy three months after getting his hands on the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time.
Gabriel Deck scored 24 points for Argentina (8-1), which got off to a slow start and played uphill the rest of the way. Luis Scola was held to eight points, shooting 1 for 10 from the floor.
Spain led 43-31 at the half, riding the strength of two big runs.
Spain ran out to a quick 14-2 lead, only to have Argentina answer with an 11-0 spurt. But when that ended, Spain came back with a 17-1 run and took what was then its biggest lead at 31-14.
Scola, even at 39 years old still Argentina’s best player throughout the tournament, didn’t get on the scoresheet until he made a pair of free throws with 2:57 left in the third. But they only cut the Spain lead to 19, and by then the Argentinian fans — who stood in the stands a few rows from their team’s bench, singing and chanting for much of the game — were relatively quiet.
They probably had a good idea what was coming.
There was one last gasp from Argentina, an 11-4 run to open the fourth quarter and cut Spain’s lead to 12 with 6:30 left. But Llull’s three-point play on the next Spain possession pushed the lead back to 15.
Argentina: This was the third FIBA World Cup medal for Argentina, making it the fifth nation with that many after the United States (12), Yugoslavia (10), the Soviet Union (eight) and Brazil (six). Another four nations have two medals, including Spain. … Argentina fell to 2-8 all-time against Spain in World Cup or Olympic competition.
Spain: It was the fourth consecutive FIBA title game to be decided by double digits. … It was also a double-title year for Spain coach Sergio Scariolo; he’s an assistant on Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto. … Everything went Spain’s way early — even air balls. Rudy Fernandez took a corner 3 that sailed long by about two feet, landing in the hands of Juancho Hernangomez. He laid in the miss to start a three-point play, part of Spain’s 14-2 game-opening run.
Joining Rubio on the all-tournament team were Gasol, Scola, France’s Evan Fournier and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Among the big names in attendance on the final day of the World Cup: Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, FIBA ambassador and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — both four-time NBA champions with San Antonio.
5 WITH 2
Spain is the fifth nation to win the World Cup (or its predecessor, the world championship) at least twice. The U.S. and Yugoslavia are five-time champions, the Soviet Union won three titles and Brazil has won two.
Argentina: Qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Spain: Qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.