Ricky Rubio Leads Spain Over Argentina in FIBA World Cup Championship 🏆

Ricky Rubio scored 20 points and dropped 7 dimes as Spain defeated Argentina, 95-75, in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Beijing, China. Rubio earned MVP honors and joined former teammate Pau Gasol (2006) as the second Spanish player to be named MVP.

Rubio averaged 16.4 ppg, 6.0 apg, 4.6 rpg and 1.5 spg and passed Pablo Prigioni (Argentina) as the World Cup’s assist leader, according to FIBA.

“Right now we made history, and we were ready for that,” Rubio said after the game. “We had a great tournament. We had to fight for this one. It’s just amazing how the whole tournament has been for us as a team. We weren’t the biggest or most talented team, but we were the team with the biggest heart. We showed it tonight and in the whole tournament. Couldn’t be more proud of my teammates and our coaches. This will go down as a memory for us as a family.”

Five other Spanish players finished in double figures: Sergio Llull (15 points), Marc Gasol (14 points), Rudy Fernandez (11 points), Willy Hernangomez (11 points) and Juancho Hernangomez (11 points).

Spain started the game scoring 14 of the game’s first 16 points and holding Luis Scola scoreless in the first half. Scola finished the contest with 8 points and 8 rebounds. In the second half, the Spaniards went on a 14-0 run and extended the lead to 22 points.

Spain dominated all facets of the game – out-rebounding Argentina (47-27) and outscoring them in the paint (44-30).

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30Q: Can the Kings win against their California rivals?

Kimani Okearah

The Kings went 1-11 against the other three California squads last season. If they’re going to make the Playoffs, they have do better against their golden state rivals.

The Sacramento Kings took a huge leap last season. Their never-ending rebuild cycle got hit with a strike of De’Aaron Fox lightning and a flash of Buddy Hield fire, and the organization made mostly smart moves in an effort to build around their young stars. The team finished at 39-43, their best mark in 14 seasons, and have seemingly set themselves up for another, stronger, attempt at a playoff birth.

But inside the state of California, things weren’t quite as smooth last season. The Kings went just 1-11 against their California rivals—the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors. In those 12 games, the Kings lost by an average of nearly 7 points per contest. Their only win came on December 27, when Bogdan Bogdanović’s buzzer-beating three knocked out the Lakers 117-116. Bogi’s three was a highlight of the season, no doubt, but it also came against a LeBron James-less Lakers team. The Lakers even bested the Kings 121-114 three night later.

The good news for Sacramento is that among the four California squads, they arguably have as much—if not more—year-to-year roster cohesion. The bad news is that the state just got a lot more star power. The Western Conference is as competitive as ever, and if the Kings are going to make the playoffs, they almost certainly have to do better against their California rivals this season.

The Clippers had the Kings’

number all season long, besting Sacramento by an average of 10.5 points in their four meetings. The 2018-19 Clippers were the ultimate workhorse team, and beat the Kings by sheer force of will (and by torching the Kings defensively, to the tune of 124.5 points and 49.2% shooting per game). There weren’t many players who seemingly destroyed the Kings on both ends quite as bad as Montrezl Harrell did—he averaged 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 66.7% shooting per contest. And things won’t get easier this season; did you hear the Clippers added both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George?!

The first step for Sacramento to beat the Clippers is to figure out ways to get Hield hot; Buddy Buckets averaged just 15 points on 29% shooting (and 17.9% from deep) against LA’s superior team the Clippers. The Kings first contest against the new-look Clippers comes on New Years Eve; we’ll know a lot about the Kings mental makeup by then, but they won’t be making the playoffs if they again play four listless contests against Doc Rivers’ hungry, determined squad.

24 months ago, the Kings and Lakers were both rebuilding through the draft and looked to be on similar trajectories. But LeBron is the NBA’s ultimate agent of chaos, and after a season of courting Anthony Davis, the Lakers threw all their chips at New Orleans to go all-in on a James/Davis pairing. There are significant concerns about their surrounding cast—their guard rotation is laughable, their best three players are either power forwards or demand to play power forward, and Dwight Howard is actually expected to play a meaningful role for this ballclub—but let’s not kid ourselves. Having two of the top five players in the NBA makes this team terrifying, especially if the addition of Davis (and an extended summer vacation that James’ hasn’t been accustomed to) means LA gets a rejuvenated, two-way motivated LeBron this season. Luke Walton will clearly be determined to beat his old squad, and the Kings will have a clear advantage at the guard spots, but it’ll be a massive challenge for the Kings forward lineup to match up against James and Davis.

(Side note: I’m legitimately disappointed we didn’t get a decade-long De’Aaron Fox/Lonzo Ball Pacific Division rivalry. I’m optimistic that the young players traded to the Pelicans will thrive outside of the vortex of massive expectations that swirls around LeBron. It’ll take some time, but Lonzo/Zion Williamson can become a ferocious pairing, especially when they’re surrounded by dudes like Jrue Holiday, Josh Hart, and JJ Redick who can open up the court and mitigate their individual weaknesses.)

And finally, we come back to the Golden State Warriors. In 2017-18, the Kings managed a 2-2 split against the dynasty, winning both contests in Arco West Oracle Arena, but the record was a bit of a mirage; the Warriors rested their starters against the Kings all season. That changed in 2018-19; aside from Steph Curry missing the first contest, the Warriors big four of Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant played in all the contests against Sacramento. The Warriors had high praise for the Kings new identity, and to Sacramento’s credit, they played four fun, competitive games against the Dubs… but to their detrement, they faultered late in each contest.

Somehow, someway, the NBA ethos has concluded that Kevin Durant’s departure and Klay Thompson’s ACL tear will doom the Warriors this season. This is madness. Steph Curry and Draymond Green are still playing—the heart and soul of the dynasty, most certainly armed with a chip on their shoulder for how last season ended—and Thompson is hopeful he might be back after the All Star break. Millions of tweets and articles have been wasted debating the fit of D’Angelo Russell on the roster, as if the Warriors haven’t overcome roster cohesion issues before by the sheer force of their talent and gameplanning. Russell was a damn All Star last season (albeit a replacement one) who can pass, dribble, and shoot, and he did manage to torch the Kings twice last season. This team might lack in depth, but if their remaining players can stay healthy and get Klay back late in the season, I’d predicting another top 3 conference finish come April. I The Warriors are inevitable—count them out at your own peril, and pray the Kings never do.

The Pacific Division is the best division in the NBA and while the Kings are multiple steps ahead of the Phoenix Suns, they still have to prove themselves against the three powerhouses in California. If they want to make the postseason, they can’t afford to give up so many games to conference rivals, let alone the ones they have to face four times in a season. Their success or failure against these California titans will make or break our dreams of a playoff game in Golden 1 Center next April.

Spain wins 95-75 to become the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup champs! 🏆🇪🇸

Ricky Rubio (20 PTS and 7 REB) led Spain and Spain are FIBA World Cup champions! Spain capped off an undefeated 8-0 run at the 2019 FIBA World Cup by beating Argentina 95-75 to win the gold medal.

After Spain opened the game with a 14-2 lead, Argentina answered with an 11-0 run, but the Spanish took back control, led by as many as 17 early in the second quarter, and went up by 22 with a 12-0 run early in the third. 

Marc Gasol stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. By winning gold, Gasol becomes the sixth player in history to win an NBA title and a gold medal (FIBA or Olympic) in the same year, joining Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Lamar Odom, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the exclusive club.

This is Spain’s second FIBA World Cup gold medal. They also won in 2006 when they blew out Greece.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Evan Fournier, Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, and Luis Scola were named 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup All-Star Five! 

Earlier on Sunday, France came back from 15 points down in the third quarter to beat Australia, 67-59, for the bronze medal.

Photo: NBA stars were in attendance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup Finals.

Boomers fall to France in defensive showdown

Written by Kane Pitman.

 The loss prevented the Boomers from claiming their first medal in a major tournament, but they still registered their best ever result at a FIBA World Cup. Head coach, Andrej Lemanis, was understandably emotional postgame, but couldn’t have been prouder of the way the group played during the tournament.

“Having a group of guys that are so committed, so passionate about playing for their country, they certainly don’t do it for the money, they commit their off-season’s because they want to represent Australia on the big stage and do something special.”

In stark contrast to the offensive extravaganza that ensued in their Group L matchup a week earlier, this game was won on the defensive end, as the wear and tear of a gruelling World Cup schedule appeared to have taken its toll.

Holding a 40-25 edge with 6:23 left in the third quarter, the Boomers were unable to hold on, with a tell-tale sign of fatigue coming in the form of their three-point shooting, where they finished just 4-for-17 (23.5 percent).

“We had some turnovers; I think perhaps a little fatigue on the back end of the tournament. I played a pretty short rotation, so I think once you get a little fatigue sometimes that leads to turnovers, a bit of lack of execution there and then France also made some shots that they needed to make,” Lemanis said postgame.

“They made some plays that gave them a bit of momentum and we weren’t able to stop it with some good solid defensive stops or clean offensive possessions and it got away from us a little bit. When you shoot 4-for-17 from the three-point line and you have 19 turnovers that’s again perhaps a sign of fatigue at our offence not being as crisp as it needed to be in critical moments. “

Both teams registered tournament-low point totals, with the 59 points for Lemanis’ squad falling well short of their previous low of 81 against Senegal.

The Boomers appeared to run out of steam in the fourth quarter, as they were outscored 25-13, their tenacious defence unable to slow down the French momentum.

“We play some guys and we missed open shots in crucial times and sometimes you prefer other guys on other teams to shoot the ball and to make plays and we did that, and those guys made shots so it’s a huge credit to them,” Mitch Creek said at the postgame press conference.

“At the end of the day, we have a game plan and we stick to it and we try and do our best to execute such game plan.”

Joe Ingles led the Boomers with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Patty Mills added 15 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.

Mills is expected to be a contender for the tournament MVP award, after taking his World Cup point total to 182, falling one point shy of Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Suffering from cramp late in the semi-final against Spain, Matthew Dellavedova was at his tenacious best defensively during the first half, drawing multiple charges and clearly getting under the skin of the French team with his trademark physical play.

Dellavedova would draw two offensive fouls on Evan Fournier during the first half and play a vital role in holding the French star to just 16 points on 5-for-17 shooting, well down on the 31 points he put on Australia last week.

Lemanis moved Andrew Bogut and Nick Kay into the starting line-up for the bronze medal game, making his first change to the starting group of the tournament. Bogut’s inclusion could well have been a tactic to once again stifle the influence of Rudy Gobert, a move that paid dividends for the Boomers.

Gobert finished with just two points for the night, giving him a total of ten in the two games against Australia. Bogut chipped in with five points and six rebounds, while Kay added nine points and five rebounds.

Other contributors included Aron Baynes with five points and four boards, while Jock Landale tallied four points and three boards.

While speaking to the media postgame, Creek had a message for the Australian fans that have supported the squad throughout the campaign.

“[To those in Australia] watching live, watching replays, watching highlights, watching Instagram, twitter, Facebook, everyone that has supported us, everyone that has backed us in, the texts, the calls, it means the absolute world to us. We gave it absolutely everything that we had.

From a national team perspective, the Boomers attention will now turn to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a tournament that Australia qualified for by virtue of progressing further than New Zealand at the World Cup.

“This team is going to be a really powerful team at the Olympic games and we haven’t forgotten about the previous Olympics, the fourth place there, we are certainly, certainly, not going to forget about this World Cup campaign so there is a lot we can take out of it and build upon. The exciting thing is we have a short turnaround to a huge campaign in the Olympics upcoming,” Creek said.

The Boomers are scheduled to fly back to Australia from China on Monday.