Spain win in more than just a friendly 28  august  2013
Marc Gasol received a Sergio Rodriguez pass down low, posted up Alexis Ajinca and released a trademark hook-shot three seconds from the final buzzer to give Spain an 85-84 lead over France on Monday night in Montpelier.
French point guard Tony Parker, who had caught fire in the second half and finished with a game-high 28 points, has sunk during his illustrious career many an important shot in much less time than three seconds.
But on Monday his desperation shot did not drop in and Spain claimed the victory in this warm-up game eight days before the start of EuroBasket 2013, and the second between the two finalists of 2011 within the space of three days.
Gasol scored 26 points, including the winning basket, to pave the way for Spain, and also added six rebounds and four assists; Jose Calderon chipped in with 11 points and Sergio Lull had 10 points.
But it was Rodriguez who instigated the Spanish reaction when the seemingly unstoppable Parker had placed France ahead 78-71 with just over three minutes remaining in the encounter.
The Real Madrid playmaker scored all of his seven points in the clutch, distributed the ball to perfection to his team-mates, and in tandem with Gasol, prevented France from clinching a victory their fans really, really wanted to celebrate.
"The atmosphere was incredible, the gym was already half-full an hour and a half before tip-off and the crowd was cheering on their team even during warm-up," Spain big man Pablo Aguilar exclaimed.
The crowd in Montpelier demanded that, finally, Les Bleus claim a win in this replay of the EuroBasket 2011 final between the two powerhouses and over a team that, the media insist, France have come to consider their 'bête noire' in recent years.
Forward Nicolas Batum however was quick to de-dramatise the result.
"No, there is no curse ," he replied categorically when asked by French media after the end of the encounter.
"We just handed the game to them, once again."
"It is now the third time we let them win a game, it's us who lost."
"Yet we did the job throughout the game, we were serious and we knew what we had to do after the defeat in Madrid."
Unlike Friday's clash in Madrid, where Spain prevailed 85-76, Parker did not sit out the game but this time around he was firing on all cylinders.
Parker, Batum, Boris Diaw, to name but a few of the leaders of perhaps the most talented French generation in history, have seen their gold medal aspirations fall short because of their Spanish opponents at both EuroBasket 2011 and the 2012 Olympics, and have not managed to win the Iberian side in a friendly encounter during this three-year period.
Players do not live in a bubble and of course are aware of the theory that considers France to be a 'cursed' team when it comes to playing against Spain.
But the truth of the matter is that since the EuroBasket 2007 final, when they fell to Russia, Spain have lost only once to a fellow European team in a knock-out game, in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Championship against Serbia.
Spain have conquered the EuroBasket 2009 and 2011 titles, and played in the gold medal game at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics against the USA — so France is not the only European team that has not celebrated a victory over them during this period.
"It's not a psychological thing," Batum insisted.
"This was a preparation game, the positive point is that this meeting does not count.
"We will now try to beat them when it really matters.
"They may have a slight advantage, but they know that despite everything we are approaching them more and more.
"We now know how to deal with them.
"We still made some mistakes but I'm sure that the next time we meet we will get it right."