Catalan star named Basketball World Cup MVP as Spain glides to victory

Marc Márquez wins dramatic San Marino Grand Prix, while Ansu Fati continues to lead the way for Barça

Ricky Rubio kisses the FIBA World Cup trophy after Spain's win over Argentina in the 2019 final (by Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
Ricky Rubio kisses the FIBA World Cup trophy after Spain's win over Argentina in the 2019 final (by Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

September 16, 2019 04:16 PM

Five Catalans victorious at Basketball World Cup

Ricky Rubio was named MVP of the FIBA Basketball World Cup as Spain captured their second ever world title in the sport, defeating Argentina 95-75 in the final. The Catalan led his team with 20 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in a performance that also saw him named Most Valuable Player of the gold medal game.

The victory sees five Catalans in total become world champions, with Marc Gasol, Pau Ribas, Pierre Oriola, Xavi Rabaseda joining Rubio in the honors list. Gasol and Rubio were also named in the team of the tournament, among the best five players to shine brightest during the two weeks in China.

For Marc Gasol, the title rounds off arguably the best season of his career, as the international win comes just months after the Barcelona-born center won his first NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors. 

Barcelona celebrate Lliga Catalana title

In local basketball, FC Barcelona won their 22nd Lliga Catalana title last week, seeing off Joventut de Badalona and Bàsquet Club Andorra to claim the crown in the 40th edition of the tournament. 

The blaugrana giants narrowly defeated their opponents in both the semifinal and final, edging out a nail-biting one-point win over Andorra in the decider.

Controversy and drama at San Marino Grand Prix

Marc Márquez overcame the challenge of Valentino Rossi to snatch victory at the last lap of the San Marino Grand Prix, extending his lead in the MotoGP to 93 points Italian Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso. 

The Catalan rider said he had heightened motivation to win due to the public spat he had with his rival and local hero, Rossi, when the pair almost collided in qualifying. Both blame the other for trying to deliberately ruin the other’s chances of starting the race in pole position.

16-year-old Fati continues to shine

Two games played in Camp Nou so far this season have delighted the home crowd to a total of 15 goals - 11 of which for Barcelona. Once again the star of the blaugrana was the 16-year-old wonderkid Ansu Fati, who struck to give Valverde’s troops the lead against Valencia as early as the second minute. Five minutes later, the youngster turned provider for Frenkie de Jong to bag his first goal in a Barcelona jersey. 

After his injury on the opening day of the season, Luis Suarez was once again fit enough for the bench, and marked his return to make a substitute appearance in the second half with his first two goals of the season as Barça ultimately ran out 5-2 winners.

The result was the perfect way to prepare for the return of the Champions League this week, coupled with the good news of Lionel Messi being declared fit to travel with the squad to Germany to take on Dortmund on Tuesday. 

Elsewhere, Espanyol picked up their first league win of the season this weekend. David Gallego’s men turned a 1-0 deficit away to Eibar on its head, with goals from Facundo Ferreyra and Esteban Granero earning the win in the Basque country. 

Return of Women’s Champions League

The Women’s Champions League returned last week also, with Barcelona being handed the difficult first test of a trip to Juventus. Last year’s runners up in Europe’s elite rose to the challenge well, with Alexia Putellas scoring the first and assisting the second as the Catalans came out 0-2 winners. 

Barcelona followed this victory up with a trip away to Rayo Vallecano, where they could only battle back a 1-1 stalemate after a late Jenni Hermoso penalty salvaged a point. Espanyol fell 0-3 to Valencia’s women’s side and now lie bottom of the table on goal difference.