Over two weeks of basketball has seen 24 teams become 2 as two of the greatest powers in European basketball collide in the championship game. It’s Spain vs France in the final of EuroBasket 2022.
All games from now on are at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany
Sunday 18 September 20.30 CEST, 19.30 BST, 14.30 EST, 11.30 PST
How they got here
Spain (7-1) have come back from double digit deficits in all three of their knockout wins over Lithuania, Finland, and Germany.
France (6-2) didn’t have much drama in their semi final win over Poland, which they won in record fashion, but needed overtime to get past Turkey in the last 16 and Italy in the quarter finals.
Need to know
Both sides have shown that tournament play is about a mix of luck, roster management, some more luck, and in-game strategy. Neither Spain nor France have overworked their top stars or even over relied on them, while the likes of Greece, Serbia, and Slovenia, fell around them.
France are going to rotate their three centre options of Rudy Gobert, Moustapha Fall, and Vincent Poirier to keep the side fresh and aggressive for the full 40 minutes. Gobert is, easily, the best rested of all the top stars in this tournament and that has shown in his often effortless looking big outings throughout the competition. While Evan Fournier also gets headlines, the workrate of Terry Tarpey and Thomas Heurtel has been critical to France at both ends as well.
Spain have shown that, even with their weakest roster on paper in 20 years, they know what they are about. Alberto Diaz is anything but a superstar but Spain were +25 with him on the floor against Germany. That’s Scariolo’s brilliance, finding the right piece for the right job at the right time. He will have a plan for Gobert, likely involving a tweak in Willy Hernangomez’s usage, but crucially he will definitely be making adjustments as the game progresses and smart ones at that.
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France and Spain met in the final in 2011, with Spain winning and they then eliminated France in the quarter finals of the 2012 Olympics. France exacted revenge in the 2013 semi final before taking the title. France also got the W in their quarter final meeting at the FIBA World Cup in Madrid the following year, only for France to fall to Spain in front of their own fans in Lille in 2015. The rivalry has largely been on ice since then but it’s still a fiery one and that makes this a tasty affair.
The crowd or lack thereof could be a factor. Neither France nor Spain are noted for bringing substantial support with them on the road so this may not be the liveliest arena going. Indeed, there’s a good chance the bronze medal match earlier in the day has a hotter crowd.
What do the bookies say?
France are favourites at 33/50 straight up and -3.5 on the point spread. Spain are priced at 143/100.
What do we say?
In terms of balance, the bookies have done a great job here as France should be favourites but we’ve all learned to not write off Spain by now. It’s going to be a strategic war between Vincent Collet and Sergio Scariolo but Collet appears to have more resources in terms of quality wrinkles he can throw than the Spanish coach. That said, we’ve long learned to not count out Scariolo.
France to win and cover, barely.