The NBA Conference Finals series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies is not just a battle between two of the league’s best teams. It will also prove a heavyweight tussle between famed players from Europe, making the series an echo of the 2008 Western Conferences Finals.
Both franchises secured their place in the NBA conference finals this week. The San Antonio Spurs look in typically ominous form after seeing off the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night with a 94-82 win to take the series 4-2. The Memphis Grizzlies await the Spurs in the finals series after the franchise emerged victorious against the Oklahoma Thunder.
Aside from the obviously exciting prospect of an NBA conference finals series, the match up will also throw together the Spurs European contingent and the Grizzlies sole shining European light. San Antonio can boast the French trio of Tony Parker (pictured), Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, while the Grizzlies have Spaniard Marc Gasol (older brother of the Lakers’ Pau) within their ranks.
For the Spurs, it is Tony Parker who continues to lead by example and yet again the point guard has been the driving force behind the team’s metronome like progress. Parker is leading his team in both scoring and passing since the play-offs started and post season he has hit averages of 22.4 points and 6.3 assists-per-game.
In a classic goliath v goliath contest, the NBA Western Conference Finals will see the Grizzlies center Marc Gasol of Spain face off against the attacking prowess of Tony Parker. Gasol has proven his credentials for the task this season and was awarded the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and if anything has only cemented his growing reputation as the league’s best center during the play-offs. During post season, Gasol has impressed with averages of 18.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and a team-high 2.2 blocks-per-game.
The Spurs can also turn to two other French players in the shape of Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, both of whom make effective contributions from the bench. Diaw is the French team captain and will be looking to build on his defensive contribution for the team during the Western Conference Finals. De Colo is in his rookie season and has found court minutes hard to come by, although he is a growing presence within the Spurs’ roster.