Grizzlies center Marc Gasol wasted little time making highlight plays, including a dynamic assist from halfcourt four seconds into Thursday’s game, as his Spanish National Team defeated the Hungarian National Team 87-64 to remain unbeaten in FIBA EuroBasket 2017.
Gasol finished with 10 points, six rebounds and two assists to help clinch Spain’s first-place standing in the final game of group play at Polyvalent Hall in Romania.
Spain took control early, dominating every facet of the game en route to a 22-10 lead after the first period and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the first half. Ahead 45-33 with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter, Spain then went on a 12-2 run to increase its lead to as much as 22 points.
Hungary responded with a 20-3 spurt to keep the game within reach early into the fourth quarter. But Spain would then go on another run late in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Spain has been dominant for much of the tournament, but Gasol said there’s still room to grow entering the knockout stage heading into the weekend.
“Yes, especially because we have to be more disciplined,” Gasol told reporters Thursday. “For everyone, it’s easy to make baskets, but it’s important to work as a team, to help us with each other and to better communicate with teammates. If we do not do these things, we’ll go in a circle and we won’t grow.”
Spain continued their efficient shooting from beyond the arc, knocking down 11-of-26 (.423) three-point attempts. Entering the game, Spain was leading EuroBasket by shooting 45.5 percent on threes. Over the course of group play, Gasol averaged 9.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game. He’s made 22 of 26 free throws, including all eight attempts against Hungary.
Marc’s brother and former Grizzlies center Pau Gasol (1,111 points) became FIBA EuroBasket’s all-time leading scorer, passing Tony Parker (1,104 points), on a three-pointer Thursday in the second quarter.
I am happy because he deserves it .. He is a unique player. He is very special and it’s another milestone in his career.
The Gasols and Spain advance to the Round of 16 and return to action on Sunday in Turkey to face the fourth-place finisher from Group D. A tipoff time has yet to be determined.
“Whoever it will be – now, we can’t lose any match,” Marc Gasol said. “We’re in the elimination round, and we don’t have margin for error.”