The San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker led France past Spain in OT in the semi-finals at Eurobasket on Friday to book his team’s spot in the Gold Medal game on Sunday at 3pm ET and based on his play at the tournament, he should be the easy winner of the 2013 Eurobasket MVP.
Parker is the only player in the top 5 in scoring at the European Championship that made it to the second round.
Bobcats Jeffrey Taylor played 5 games for Sweden in the preliminary round and averaged 21.2 points per game shooting 46.8 percent from the field to lead all scorers. The Charlotte small forward showed what he could do as the go-to-guy and the Bobcats should be excited to see what last year’s rookie can bring to the team this season.
Bosnia and Herzegovina featured the Nets Mirza Teletovic (second at 21 points per game) and Nihad Djedovic (fourth at 17.8 points per game) but they were eliminated in the preliminary round after 5 games as well. Teletovic scored in bunches, but he shot 38.6 percent, so the message he sent to the Nets is not as clear as what Taylor provided Charlotte.
Bo McCalebb averaged 17.6 points per game for Macedonia over 5 games to hold down fifth in scoring.
With only the Gold Medal game left to go in the tournament, Parker has averaged 19.7 points per game and if his clutch quarter-final and semi-final performances are any indication, he will finish this tournament averaging over 20 points. Parker scored 27 points against host country Slovenia in the quarter-finals and 32 points versus Spain in the semi-finals. France wouldn’t be in the Gold Medal game without Parker and without him, it’s unlikely they would have even made the medal rounds at all.
France shouldn’t be such a one-man show at the offensive end of the court. They have a roster loaded with current and former NBA talent. Parker is playing with Spurs teammates Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo and joined by the Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum. Mickael Gelebale played with the Timberwolves and Johan Petro played with Hawks last season. Center Alexis Ajinca has previously played with Bobcats, Mavericks and Raptors.
However, the five-time NBA All-Star Parker at 31-year-old is the heart, soul and mentor for France and he appreciates that the Spurs organization permits him to play for his National team according to Mark Woods and the player interviews on ESPN.
“They know that I love playing for my country,” Parker said. “I take a lot of pride playing for France. I’m just happy that I have the Spurs organization to let me do that.
“I try to teach the young guys on my team. I try to explain how every detail is very important.”
After the semi-final game, the Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio who plays for Spain described what Parker means to his team.
“France has a good team, a great generation with Tony Parker leading that generation. There is no secret (to guarding Parker), it is almost impossible. For me, he is one of my idols. I love the way he plays. It is hard to stop him, but it is a team effort, not only one guy can stop him. A center and a wing are going to help a lot.”
Lithuania defeated France in the second round 76-62 by holding Parker to only 11 points, so the Gold Medal game provides the NBA All-Star a chance to redeem himself in the biggest game of the tournament. However, the Eurobasket organizers should already have Parker’s name on the MVP award no matter what happens. No one has put in bigger performances when it mattered or been more important to his team’s success throughout the tournament.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors