EuroBasket 2022 semifinal: Usman Garuba shines as Spain advances past Germany

·4 min read

Houston Rockets prospect Usman Garuba isn’t starting for Spain at the 2022 European Basketball Championship (EuroBasket), owing to the veteran frontcourt duo of Willy and Juancho Hernangomez. But the 20-year-old forward is still playing a critical role.

“Our idea was that Lorenzo (Brown) would lead the team in attack, and Usman in defense,” Spanish national team coach Sergio Scariolo said of Garuba earlier this week. “He is an extraordinary defender. He can change everything. He has a big heart. He makes mistakes, of course. He is very young, but we trust him a lot.”

That was certainly on display in Friday’s semifinal versus favored Germany, where Garuba played a key role in the second half as a defender and facilitator. With the 6-foot-8 forward leading much of the charge, Spain rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter to defeat Germany, 96-91 (box score). Germany had two former Rockets on its roster in Dennis Schroder and Daniel Theis, who were each teammates with Garuba during the 2021-22 season.

In 18 minutes, Garuba had a team-high 7 assists, 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots, and Spain was +8 with Garuba on the floor. With the game played in a raucous, primetime environment in Berlin, Spain was a moderate underdog entering Friday’s action.

Scroll on for a look at highlights and analysis of Garuba’s play. Spain will conclude its EuroBasket run with Sunday’s championship game versus France, which takes place at 1:30 Central time.

Garuba will then travel back to his NBA home of Houston over the following days, where training camp for the 2022-23 Rockets season is set to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire