Blazers Victor Claver In FIBA World Cup: Spain Rolls Over Iran 90-60

(AP Photo)


Welcome to The Columbian’s coverage of your Portland Trail Blazers competing in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Damian Lillard did not make the final cut for Team USA while LaMarcus Aldridge withdrew from the process back in mid-July.

Blazers forwards Nicolas Batum and Victor Claver, whose birthday is today, will be competing for France and Spain respectively throughout the tournament.  And, both players are in the same group for the preliminary round, Group A.

For the schedule of upcoming games for both players can be found right here.

Nicolas Batum and France played and lost earlier today to Brazil 65-63 in their first game of the World Cup. A recap of his game is right here.

Spain 90, Iran 60: Group (A) Play, Game 1

Victor Claver: 20 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, 1/4 FG, 1 3PT. 

The host country Spain looked the part in their first game on Saturday in Granada against Iran. After jumping out to a good start, their class gradually helped themselves separate comfortably from Iran by game’s end.

After missing last year’s Eurobasket to rehab from injuries, power forward Pau Gasol is back with the Spanish side and put up 33 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in a dominating performance.

Last season Claver found himself in the starting line-up with a lack of depth. But in this tournament it appears that Claver will be in competition with Spain’s other reserves for playing time.

Claver finished with 20 minutes of play as Spain didn’t hold back very much at all against their inferior opponents. Although the score was a blowout, there wasn’t really a designated garbage time in this one.

It probably also helped Claver’s chances to play that Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka, who was born in Congo plays for Spain, was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Claver provided the Spanish team with spacing at the power forward position as well as size at the three. He attacked the boards, moved the ball in offensive sets and helped get the fast-paced Spanish attack in the open court with good outlets off rebounds.

Claver also had a couple of careless turnovers, including one particularly ugly jump pass when the game’s result was no longer in doubt.

Spain is going to be a problem for everyone they play in this tournament. Marc Gasol has slimmed down, Pau Gasol looks energetic and their guards look to be in sync. Also, as my guy @Marco_Romo noted via twitter, Ricky Rubio looks like he’s been in the weight room this summer.

Claver would probably get a 4 out of 10 for his performance today. Nothing egregiously bad but there also wasn’t a lot that he showed that convinced me that spot can’t be taken by Ibaka.

Claver’s basketball IQ might keep him on the court but Ibaka’s shot might just be good enough that he can provide spacing at the forward spot in the international game not to mention all of the other things (athleticism, size, rim protection) that the Oklahoma City man brings to the table.

But, even though they didn’t bench their stars in Game 1, I suspect that Claver will get a hefty share of minutes tomorrow when they take on Egypt (0-1) who lost by 21 to Serbia earlier today.

Spain looks like they’re ready to challenge USA and they’ll have the homecourt to boot. Then again, USA just won by 59 points.

There’s still a lot of basketball to play. We’re only done with Day 1.



Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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