By John Rammas/ email@example.com
Berlin – Usman Garuba was a believer from day one. He believed Spain can go all the way in the 2022 EuroBasket, despite the projections for a rocky transition coming out of the golden generation winning multiple titles and accolades in major FIBA international tournaments.
Head coach Sergio Scariolo was clear on not keeping any secrets regarding the team’s approach to the tournament. However, there was a secret among the players, the nutrition program of Juancho Hernangomez on the track to him dropping 7/9 three-pointers in the gold medal game opposite France in Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena Sunday. “I don’t know. I would like to know and eat the same every day,” jokingly said the former Real Madrid rising star and current Houston Rockets big man.
Hernangomez, 26, was named TLC Player of the Game thanks to the game-high 25 points alongside five rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes. More praise came from Hustle co-star Adam Sandler. “Bo Cruz! Getting it done. Love you Juancho. And Willie! Congrats to the whole Spanish team,” wrote American comedian, actor, and filmmaker in a post shared on Twitter.
This time around, Spain did not have the big stars but featured players ready to function as a team and focus on the game plan every night.
Garuba, 20, delivered 4.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game as La Roja exceeded expectations to capture gold in the 2022 EuroBasket.
“Honestly, we did not care about big names,” he replied to a question on teams featuring stars and more household names ranking lower than Spain, “At the end of the day, basketball is five on five. Everyone is normal because you just keep fighting and play as a team. That’s our strength.”
Serbia and Nikola Jokic, Slovenia and Luka Doncic, and Greece and Giannis Antetokounmpo were all knocked out well before Spain and France battled it out for the first place. Mainly due to the presence of the aforementioned NBA players on other sides, the team coached by Scariolo was not labeled as a contender at the beginning of the tournament. “You can ask anyone, since the first day I came here. I knew our team would fight every day. Our strength is the team. And teams like that will succeed,” countered Garuba.
The future looks bright for the next generation of players succeeding in keeping Spain on the level set by their predecessors.
“The best thing is that we have plenty of room for improvement in the future,” said the Madrid-born player, “We are just starting, this is the beginning of something big. I think we are going to be a very good team in the next few years. This experience will help us in the future.”
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL