I'm thrilled to be creating my shots from the sidelines of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. I started out in Granada for the group phase of the tournament where Brazil, France, Serbia, Egypt, Iran, and the host team Spain battled it out for an opportunity to advance to the round of 16. The group phase included four pools; the three other pools took place in Gran Canaria, Bilbao, and Barcelona respectively.
The Palacio Municipal de Deportes Granada was rockin'—and not only when Spain played. France, Brazil, and Serbia had substantial followings there to support them. And when Iran assembled a dubious comeback attempt against France late in the fourth quarter of their game, where they made an 18-point deficit wither away into as close as a 4-point game, the energy in the publico was as electric as any other time in the arena. France was able to withstand Iran's spirited push.
Currently boasting a convincing unblemished 4-0 record, the host team has not disappointed. Featuring many household names in the NBA, Spain has a formidable squad by all standards of basketball. Their chemistry on and off the court is what every youth basketball coach (all coaches for that matter) strives to achieve regardless of the talent level.
The Gasol brothers are simply beasting any and everyone in their way. Pau Gasol looks like a monster (in the best way possible). This is not the same guy fans may recall seeing in a Laker uniform and, if he can carry his confidence over from what I've seen so far into Chicago, the Bulls are in for a real treat. I think I blinked on the baseline once and when I looked up Pau dropped 12 points. No joke.
And if that's not enough, Spain brings in the Oklahoma City Thunder starting center, Serge Ibaka off the bench. Ibaka is a fan favorite; no shock there. Within seconds of entering the game he erases a couple shots and throws down at least—I'm talking on average here—one mean dunk. Boom! The opponent is rendered demoralized. And I haven't even mentioned Navarro's lights-out shooting from beyond the arc, Rubio's lightning speed and ability to keep his teammates involved, and Rudy Fernandez's fierce leadership on both ends of the floor.
There's simply not enough time for me to share all the amazingness that I am both witnessing and experiencing here in Spain. So far, it looks like the stars are aligning for a Team USA vs Spain title game and, if that should come to fruition, YIKES! I can't wait! In short, this tournament is helping me to sharpen my game from the sidelines. I'm constantly surrounded by some of the greatest sports photographers in the world. In fact, I'm one part of an incredible team of photographers being lead by my new friend Elio from Italy, from whom I have already learned a ton in just the first phase.
I hope you enjoy my images. I definitely recommend checking out some of the games (and not only Team USA). You won't be disappointed. Next stop: Madrid.