No one dares to doubt Spain anymore. The team attended the previous World Cup event, in 2019, with less luster than in previous editions, without some of its golden generation totems. Less scary, on paper, was the Spanish roster at the 2022 Eurobasket, where it was presented in sheep's clothing, without any media star and outside the group of favorites according to all experts. Appearances were deceiving. In both tournaments, the national team came out with the gold medal around their necks. Now, he comes as number 1 in the FIBA ranking and current World Cup champion that will be held between this Friday and September 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Asia, a fetish continent where he has won his two world titles, in Saitama (2006) and Beijing (2019), will once again light up a rocky team. No rival trusts the selection.
Spain has been losing talent for some time, with some of the best players in its history having retired in recent years. He has left behind that feeling of dominance of yesteryear, of going to competitions like the ogre, in many cases the rival to beat, to be the champion of tactical discipline and intensity. The coach Sergio Scariolo has reminded everyone that basketball is a team sport, where success depends, above all, on the strength of the group. The nickname of the family, as the Spanish team has been known for more than five years, is perfectly in line with reality, always an example of solidarity and effort on the parquet.
The national team will begin its journey in Indonesia, in Jakarta, with the same core of players (Rudy Fernández, Willy Hernangómez, Juancho Hernangómez, Brizuela, Alberto Díaz, Parra and Garuba) that surprised at the last European Championship. The veterans Claver, Llull and Abrines, who were absent due to injury in the previous continental event, complete the squad along with Santi Aldama, the only one who plays for an NBA franchise, and the young Juan Núñez, substitute for Ricky Rubio, who was absent due to mental health problems. MVP of the past World Cup. The Spaniards, who gave a good image in the five friendlies prior to the tournament, only beaten by the United States and in extra time by Canada, are framed in affordable group G with Brazil, Iran and the Ivory Coast, their rival on Saturday (3:30 p.m. h).
Spain should be one of the two teams that advance to the second round, also a group, where it would meet the survivors of group H, made up of Lebanon, Latvia, Canada and France, the latter two favorites for the podium, with several players from the nba. The French, without Wembanyama but led by the veterans Gobert, Batum and Fournier, and the Canadians, led by the Spanish Jordi Fernández and with Gilgeous-Alexander as the top star, would be Spain's first level test, which if it reached the quarterfinals could measure up against another tough nut to crack like Australia, guided by the incombustible Aussies Mills and the young Giddey. The oceanic lost in 2019 in an agonizing semifinal, after two extensions, against Spain, which later won the final against Argentina, a great absentee in this edition.
It would not be until the semifinals where Scariolo's men could meet their most feared rival: the United States. The Americans have presented a team without big names, with Anthony Edwards and Haliburton as the main engines, but prioritizing the formation of a solid collective. Steve Kerr will have shooters like Bridges and Johnson, defensive specialists like NBA Defender of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. and other youngsters, among them the rookie of the year Banchero. The country of the stars and stripes will want to remove the thorn of seventh place in the past World Cup.
Some of the other figures of the tournament are the Slovenian Doncic, the Serbian Bogdanovic, the German Schroeder, the Lithuanian Valanciunas and the Finnish Markkanen. On the other hand, Jokic and Antetokounmpo will not be there. Spain, for its part, will have the team, the family, always reliable at important moments.