Nicolas Batum and his French compatriots were simply overwhelmed by the Spanish National Team 88-64 today during FIBA World Cup pool play. Spain was led by the Gasol brothers, with Pau Gasol posting 15 points on 5-9 shooting, and Marc Gasol leading all scorers with 17 points. Serge Ibaka also contributed with two blocks.
On the French side, Batum was the definite focal point, putting up 15 shots, the most of any player on the court. He unfortunately connected on only five of them (1-5 on threes), ultimately finishing with 11 points, two rebounds, and no assists. While it may seem like a rough go for Batum, there’s no shame in being harassed by a deep, experienced Spanish team.
In fact during the French telecast of a game, an announcer said that the players on the Spanish National Team have more combined games of NBA experience than all of Team USA squad put together. If true, it is simply a testament to just how much experience the Spanish team has.
Of particular note for Blazers fans is Victor Claver and his playing time – or utter lack thereof. Claver only saw 2:44 of on-court action, and not until the end. This is following up only 1:17 of playing time against Brazil, so it appears that he has largely fallen out of Spanish coach Juan Orenga’s rotation. While it is fruitless to read too much into FIBA games, this is likely, again, simply a product of the caliber of talent that Claver is surrounded by on Spain’s team.
As for Batum, it is quite exciting as a Blazers fan to see him as France’s alpha dog. With no Tony Parker playing for France this year, the reins have largely been handed to Batum. One of the criticisms I have seen directed towards Batum (myself included) has been an inconsistent effort in being assertive on the offensive end. Let’s hope that some of his forced responsibility on the French team will translate over to the Blazers. Finally, it is worth noting that, despite his increased role, Batum did not turn the ball over.