Pau Gasol is thisclose to a fifth Olympics appearance…
Spain has included the 40-year-old professional basketball player, who currently plays for FC Barcelona of the Liga ACB and the EuroLeague, in its preliminary squad for the Tokyo Games.
Gasol was among the 18 players called up by coach Sergio Scariolo to prepare for the Summer Olympics. Only 12 players will make the final squad.
The two-time NBA champion and four-time All-NBA team selection is trying to play in his fifth Olympics. He was included after overcoming a long injury layoff and a successful return to Barcelona this season.
He will turn 41 before the Games open on July 23.
Gasol’s brother Marcalso made the list, as did Ricky Rubio. Both were key for Spain when it won the world championship two years ago in China. A total of eight world champions are on the preliminary list.
Other names in the squad include Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodríguez, Alex Abrines, Sergio Llulland newcomer Usman Garuba, who is projected to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft next month.
Another sibling pair — Juancho and Willy Hernangomez– were included.
Rubio and Juancho Hernangomez are teammates on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Willy Hernangomez played this season for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The team will begin its preparations on Friday in Madrid.
Spain is a three-time silver medalist at the Olympics. It won the bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
The 34-year-old Spanish professional basketball player got to bask in a championship celebration for the second time in three months — and this time, he did it for his country. Tournament MVP Ricky Rubio scored 20 points, Sergio Llull added 15 and Spain won the FIBA World Cup for the second time by topping Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.
“We weren’t the most talented team,” Rubio said.
“We weren’t the bigger team. Put anything you want, but we were the team
with the biggest heart and we showed it tonight and we showed it during the
Gasol scored 14 for the winners, who never trailed and added
this crown to the one they claimed in 2006. And for him, 2019 will go down as a
year the likes of which few others have enjoyed.
The Toronto Raptors center
becomes the second player to win an NBA
title and a FIBA world gold medal in
the same year, joining Lamar Odom —
who did it for the Los
Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in
2010. Gasol also became the 19th player to win either an NBA or WNBA crown along with a gold medal,
either of the Olympic or World Cup variety, in the same year.
The first 18 all did it for the U.S.
This time, vamos Espana!
“NBA champion and a World Cup champion as well,” Gasol
said. “What can I say? How does it sound to you? I feel very fortunate to
be in this position and be able to play this game and help these guys be part
of history of Spanish basketball.”
Llull and Rudy Fernandez
— the team captain, who initially got to accept the Naismith Trophy — went to cut down the nets shortly after the
final buzzer. Gasol carried the game ball to the gold-medal ceremony, and
Spanish fans wept in the stands during the national anthem.
Deck scored 24 points for Argentina (8-1), which got off to a
slow start and played uphill the rest of the way. Luis Scola was held to eight points, shooting 1-for-10 from the
“We’re sad right now. We’re very sad,” Scola said.
“But I feel confident, in hours, we’ll be able to look back and be very
proud. They just played better than us. They were better. They deserved to win.
They were the better team in the game and the tournament.”
Spain led 43-31 at intermission, after putting together a 14-2
run to open the game and a 17-1 run later in the half.
“This is basketball,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez
said. “If you play better than the other team, you win the game. And Spain
was the best team today.”
Scola, who at 39 years old was still Argentina’s best player
throughout the tournament, didn’t get on the score sheet until he made a pair
of free throws with 2:57 left in the third quarter. But they only cut Spain’s
lead to 19, and by then the Argentinian fans who stood, sang and chanted for
much of the game were relatively quiet.
The day belonged to Spain.
And the year belongs to Gasol.
“It’s unbelievable,” Gasol said.
Joining Rubio on the
all-tournament team were Gasol, Scola, France’s Evan Fournier and