Sports fans following EuroBasket 2011 may wonder why they have read so few stories about the Spanish team. They have lost only one game to Turkey this tournament and are the only team averaging more than 80 points per game. Spain have been playing some breathtaking basketball at times as well. Oh and they are the reigning champions.
One exhibition of Spain’s dominance was the demolition of hosts Lithuania in the Group A first round stage. Sergio Scariolo’s demonstrated nearly perfect all-around basketball in building a 30-point lead in Panevezys. Point guard Juan Carlos Navarro had 22 points and four assists and Pau Gasol scored 17, including two from beyond the arc in a display of dominance inside the paint and beyond.
Writing about Spanish players however has proved frustratingly difficult for the attending international media.
Requests for interviews have been mostly ignored, post-game press conferences are yet to include Spain’s biggest star Pau Gasol, while mixed zone reaction has been almost entirely in Spanish, reserved for the team’s own national media, and limited to two players.
On Sunday, Spain blew away a France team missing Tony Parker and Joakim Noah. It was a game with little intensity and with both teams already guaranteed a berth in the quarter-finals. Spain’s silence made each story that little bit more tedious. However, this particular match-up will be remembered by few.
Covering a Championship solely from box scores neither does justice to the attending journalists nor to the readers, TV viewers and radio listeners.
Should the Spanish silence travel on Monday to Kaunas, Spain’s possible EuroBasket title defence – the first since Bodiroga and Djordjevic carried Yugoslavia to gold in 1997 – would risk being partly overshadowed.
Basketball deserves better, fans deserve better and so do Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and company.