Rubio vs Jennings: Showdown in Spain
Further proof of the globalization of basketball was on display at the Palau Oli'mpic de Badalona in Badalona, Spain on Thursday night. Rather than at a college gym somewhere in the U.S., like in the past, Badalona was the sight of the showdown between the top two point guard prospects in the 2009 NBA draft class.
The game in question was the second Euroleague match up between home team DKV Joventut and the Italian league's Lottomatica Roma. And the players in question, of course, are teenage point guard prodigies Ricky Rubio from Spain and America's Brandon Jennings. The team's first clash - a Roma win on Oct 30th - was missed by Rubio as he was still healing from surgery on a wrist he injured in the gold medal game in Beijing. So the much-anticipated match up between these two point guard studs had to wait until the game in Badalona. There was plenty of intrigue heading into the game - Roma's coach resigned earlier this week, Rubio barely played in his first two games back last week and Jennings recently missed a game due to the flu.
With Jennings playing a lot of shooting guard (former Penn star Ibrahim Jaaber got the bulk of the point guard minutes) and Rubio playing less than nine minutes in the game, the showdown turned out to be pretty anticlimactic. However, Rubio did show his amazing speed, handle and passing ability in the first half, blowing by Jennings a couple of times for nice dishes to teammates. He also showed what a disruption he can be on defense, forcing a turnover the second he got into the game. Jennings, meanwhile, played a season high of almost 23 minutes, hitting for 12 points and two assists. Rubio was held scoreless but did contribute three assists to his team's 97-93 victory. Chances are the next time these two square off will be in Jennings' homeland - on an NBA court.