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Navarro / PHOTO: www.acb.com

Juan Carlos Navarro put in a brilliant performance this Sunday in London. Millions of fans from around the world watched as the Catalan led the Spanish national team against the United States in the basketball final of the Olympic Games to become the only Barça Regal player to medal twice in the Olympics. The Azulgrana and Spanish national team captain, who scored 21 points, gave 2 assists and received 4 personal fouls, came just short of claiming Olympic glory. It was a repeat of the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the 2008 Beijing Games - the Spanish national team lost to the favourites, the United States, in a spectacular and unforgettable match (107-100).

Spectacular start for Navarro

Both teams came out onto the court with their usual starting line-ups. Spain with Calderón, Navarro, Rudy and the Gasol brothers. The United States started with Paul, Bryant, James, Durant and Chandler. The Barça Regal guard set the pace from the get go as he netted three three-pointers, one of them with a personal foul included, and a two-pointer, which took his point tally to 12 in five minutes. The United States didn’t shy away from the challenge and kept pace with Navarro’s scoring thanks Durant, Anthony, Bryant’s devastating accuracy from the perimeter. The first quarter came to an end with a slight advantage for Team USA (35-27).

Spain battled back at the start of the second quarter to take a two-point lead (37-39). Sergio Scariolo has to deal with a bit of bad news, however, as Marc Gasol committed his fourth personal foul with a little over five minutes remaining in the half. Despite missing their big man, Spain, with a fantastic Navarro - 19 points at the break - played with the nerves of some of the American players and managed to get to the half with 59-58 on the scoreboard.

Durant, Bryant and James clinch gold for the USA

Pau Gasol stepped up as the leader of the Spanish team at the start of the second half. The ex-Barça player stood tall as the American starts, especially Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, attempted to put the game beyond reach. The score at London’s O2 arena was 83 to 82 at the end of the third quarter. Spain had managed to do what no other country could, put up a believable fight against the US.

Mike Krzyzewski’s men opened up a small lead at the start of the fourth (95-86) but the Spanish national team had plenty of fight still to give. The Iberians clawed their way back within striking distance - six points - with two minutes remaining on the clock (99-93). It wasn’t to be, however; the United States did well to open the gap between the two sides to seven points as time ran out (107-100).

Olympic silver for Sada

The Spanish national manager sent Víctor Sada out onto the court for the last 37 seconds of the final. The Barça Regal guard joins the select group of Azulgrana basketball Olympic medalists: De la Cruz, Epi, Solozábal, Navarro, Djordjevic, Karnisovas and Jasikevicius.


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