By sportswriters Su Bin, Ma Kai, Lin Deren
BEIJING, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Prior to the United States' dominance in world basketball for nearly a decade, it was Argentina and Spain that became the winners of the two major international tournaments, with the former as the 2004 Olympic Games gold medallists, and the latter crowned in the 2006 World Championships.
Now, it's their turn to once again go head-to-head for the world championship again after team USA surrendered their crown.
It's definitely a duel of the ages, as veterans have played an integral part throughout the tournament.
With four points on the score sheet after the first half, Spanish center Marc Gasol made timely adjustment afterward to register 33 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a historic double-overtime win over Australia.
As his elder brother Pau always did in international duties, the 34-year-old Marc contributed a lot inside the paint, powering Spain to an unbeaten run in seven World Cup matches with an average of 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
"It's not just because we'll play in the final, but because of having the opportunity to pass on the commitment and loyalty to the national team. These are the values and legacy we've been taught," said Gasol, who is bidding to become the second player winning World Cup and NBA titles in the same year after Lamar Odom in 2010. Gasol hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy with Toronto Raptors in last season's NBA.
Luis Scola and Argentina will be the last obstacle for Gasol to achieve a rare double.
Scola, five years older than Gasol, finished with 28 points and 13 boards in the semifinal victory over France.
Coast-to-coast three-point play, three-pointer shooting, and driving layups, Scola displayed his offensive versatility against the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
The only member of Argentina's title-winning squad in Athens in 2004, Scola stood on the court protecting the glory of the Argentine "golden generation" wowing the world for a decade.
For Scola, his long hair may have disappeared, but determination and mentality as a veteran is never gone away. An average of 19.3 points and 8.1 rebounds has seen him lead the way for Argentina.
Experience is felt inside the paint, while creativity will be witnessed on the point guard position.
Standing 5'10'' tall, Argentina's Facundo Campazzo has caught the eye with beautiful passes and dribbling moves, pacing the match with 7.7 assists on average, highlighted by his 12 assists to eliminate Serbia in the quarterfinals.
Standing in front of Campazzo will be Spanish "Golden Boy" Ricky Rubio, who can also put on magic display on the court.
Rubio offered much help to Gasol against France with 19 points, seven rebounds, and 12 assists.
Using his creativity, Campazzo made Argentina dance on the World Cup court in glittering performance on the offensive end.
Spain has displayed its defensive ability by restraining its opponents below 70 points in first five matches this time, including against title favorites Serbia.
For both sides playing with similar style, if they want to keep title quest alive in Sunday's finale, striking a balance between offense and defense is desperately needed.