Pau Gasol had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead Spain to a resounding victory over Lithuania, 80-63, to win the EuroBasket 2015 championship. Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and nine rebounds for Lithuania in the loss.
After beating France in the semifinal and dominating Lithuania in the final, Spain cemented itself as Europe's premier basketball team. They won this tournament despite missing stars like Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro and Jose Calderon.
On Sunday, Spain jumped out to a 15-4 lead and held a double-digit lead through most of the first half. It looked like it was going to be a rout, but Lithuania had other ideas. Despite Spain shooting 56 percent from the field in the first half, Lithuania hung around and chipped away at the Spain lead. They trailed by just eight, 41-33, at the half thanks to a 10-4 run capped by a Jonas Maciulis three at the buzzer.
But the second half was unkind to Lithuania. Spain went on an 11-2 run to start the half and went into the fourth with an 18-point lead. They didn't let Lithuania get close again, holding on for a 17-point win.
Three things to know
1. Spain had the perfect game plan
During the first quarter, they sent a second ball screen on Lithuania's big man Valanciunas and Lithuania had no answer, allowing layup after layup.
That second Spain ball screen on the help defender is a look I’d like to see more in the NBA.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) September 20, 2015
There’s the Spain guard screening Valanciunas again on the pick and roll. Lithuania has no idea how to defend that.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) September 20, 2015
Spain shot 65 percent from inside the three-point line in the first half because of those pick and rolls, and Lithuania couldn't find a remedy. The second half was no different -- Spain continued to dominate offensively, finding seams and holes in the Lithuania defense.
2. Lithuania was overmatched
Simply put, Spain's squad was much more talented than Lithuania's. Valanciunas stood no chance against Gasol and the Raptors big man was outplayed by the Spaniard on both sides of the ball. On top of the talent mismatch, Lithuania did itself no favors. They shot just 35 percent from the field and turned the ball over 13 times. If Lithuania was going to pull off an upset of Spain, they were going to need to play mistake-free ball. Instead, they were sloppy.
3. Look out for Spain in Rio
It was more than just the Pau Gasol show for the EuroBasket champs. Sure, Gasol was superb and won a well-deserved MVP of the tournament award, but Spain's role players were fantastic, too. Rudy Fernandez -- who left the game after a hard pick in the third quarter -- was on fire in the first half and Nikola Mirotic hit some big shots. Plus, Spain is missing quite a few pieces. Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon all skipped out on EuroBasket this year, but could be on the court in the 2016 Olympics.
The U.S. is going to be the favorite, but if anyone can steal the gold, it could be Spain.