The quirks of EuroBasket are actually rather charming. The announcers referring to Memphis as “the land of Elvis” made me chuckle almost as much as former Blazer, Sergio Rodriguez, and his new Harden-esque beard. But beneath the little things that I would consider “quaint,” this was some really gritty basketball, resulting in Spain’s 75-79 loss to Greece.
The Spanish team may have been beaten, but guys, Claver looked great. His defense was top-notch as he bodied his man and outmatched him athletically. I want to see that Claver in the coming season. He could block, he could rebound, and he could score when called upon. Claver finished the game with 9 points on 2/4 shooting, with 11 rebounds. Prior to fouling out after two questionable, late calls, he was on pace for a double-double.
More interestingly, it was Claver’s departure that was the turning point for Spain. They built a reasonable lead on Gasol’s abuse of the Greek team in the post, but once Claver was forced to sit, Greece had a feeding frenzy at the basket. Vassilis Spanoulis took charge and led the Greek team to victory in the absence of Spain’s most athletic stopper (doesn’t that sound weird?).
If Claver can put forth that sort of showing in the NBA this year, I can see him carving out some quality minutes off of the Blazer bench, despite first bench options Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson at the forward positions. He looked like the kind of role player Portland needs him to be. Spain will go on to face Italy, the only undefeated team in EuroBasket 2013, and we’ll see if Claver can help his team recoup the loss.