In basketball, there’s an old saying that goes, “you can’t teach size.”
It’s the same line of thinking that’s duped countless general managers and front office executives into shelling out millions of dollars to undeserving big men and splurging on elusive seven-footers in the draft lottery when they didn’t warrant such stature.
But that old phrase also holds a certain level of validity even in today’s ever-changing game and in Spain’s 93-56 rout of the Czech Republic at EuroBasket Saturday, it rang true.
Behind big men Pau and Marc Gasol, and Willy Hernangomez, Spain outrebounded the Czech Republic 50-28, shot an efficient 27-47 (57%) from two-point range and had Washington Wizards’ guard Tomas Satoransky and his side in a stranglehold from the opening tip.
Spain’s length was felt not only on offense but on the defensive end of the floor as well.
With no defensive three second rule in FIBA competition, big men can anchor themselves to the paint and essentially form a wall around the goal. And with the Gasol brothers and Hernangomez, three of the best big men in all of EuroBasket, Spain did just that.
Marc Gasol registered eight points, nine rebounds and four assists, including the play of the tournament so far. Pau Gasol finished with a game-high 26 points to go with eight rebounds and Hernangomez came off the bench to chip in nine points and ten rebounds.
Nuggets’ forward Juancho Hernangomez, who’s playing in his first European Championships with his home country’s senior national team, played well for a second consecutive game. The 21-year-old finished with seven points on 2-8 shooting, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in 19 minutes.
For Hernangomez, this tournament sets him up well for an important second NBA season where he’ll be asked to play more minutes on the wing than he did in his rookie year with Danilo Gallinari‘s departure from Denver’s starting lineup.
With Spain, the 6-foot-9 swingman is asked not to be the No. 1 or two, or even three option on offense. He’s simply tasked to be a ball mover, a distributor and a secondary playmaker — the same role he’ll play with the Nuggets in a couple months.
Versus the Czech Republic, the springy Hernangomez showed off his athleticism, meeting the opposition at the rim for two highlight-worthy blocks — a welcomed sight to Denver’s coaching staff who watched over the league’s worst defense last season and continued to play as always with an unselfish nature.