Hernangómez Wins Gold, Batum Grabs Bronze at FIBA World Cup

by Sam Perley

Willy Hernangómez and Nicolas Batum’s suitcases were both a tad heavier on their flights out of Beijing today as the two Charlotte Hornet players each picked up a medal on the final day of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

The 25-year-old Hernangómez racked up 11 points, three rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes off the bench as Spain won its second World Cup gold medal and first since 2006 with a 95-75 win over Argentina on Sunday morning. Over the course of the 16-day tournament, the Charlotte center averaged 7.0 PPG on 52.4% shooting, 3.9 RPG and 1.3 APG in eight games off the bench for the 8-0 Spaniards.

Spain is now the fifth different nation to win more than one World Cup, joining the United States (5), Yugoslavia (5), the Soviet Union (3) and Brazil (2). The American and Spanish federations are notably the only ones to go undefeated in multiple title runs, though.

This is the fourth medal Hernangómez has won at a major international basketball competition. He was a member of gold and bronze-medal-winning teams, respectively, at the 2015 and 2017 European Championships and added another bronze to his trophy case in between the two tournaments at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Earlier in the day, Batum and the French National Team rebounded from a disappointing loss in the semifinals to knock off Australia, 67-59, in the bronze medal game. The Charlotte wing had nine points, three rebounds and game highs in assists (six) and steals (three), helping solidify Les Bleus’ second-ever World Cup medal after also finishing in third in 2014.

This is Batum’s fifth career medal from a major international tournament as he owns one of each color from the European Championships and now two World Cup bronzes. He’ll look to complete the podium trifecta at the Olympics next summer in Tokyo, which France and Spain both qualified for after outlasting all the other European teams at this competition.

The Hornets were the only NBA team to have more than one player at the World Cup win a medal. Other active NBA players on the Spanish squad included World Cup MVP Ricky Rubio (Phoenix), Marc Gasol (Toronto) and Willy’s brother Juancho Hernangómez (Denver), while the French roster featured Rudy Gobert (Utah), Evan Fournier (Orlando), Frank Ntilikina (New York) and Vincent Poirier (Boston).

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