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
Pau Gasol has propelled Spain into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro…
The 35-year-old Spanish basketball star had a double-double as Spain cruised past Lithuania 80-63 on Sunday to take the EuroBasket title.
Gasol, the European Basketball Championship MVP, helped Spain earn its third title in the last four tournaments after having to settle for bronze two years ago.
“It was an incredible championship,” Gasol said. “We went through struggles early on but the team responded well, and with our backs to the wall, we understood that we had to play better defense.”
With Spain’s King Felipe VI and tennis star Rafael Nadal in the stands, the final was a one-sided affair as the Spaniards opened a 13-point lead in the first quarter and were never really threatened.
Gasol finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots, one steal and no turnovers to earn the tournament’s MVP award.
“It’s of special significance to play this well at this stage of my career after all I’ve accomplished,” said Gasol, the Chicago Bulls center who has two NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. “It is something I will remember until the end of my life.
The victory completed a turnaround for Spain, which came to the tournament without Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio and lost two of its first three games.
But with Gasol dominating, Spain raised its game when it mattered and looked impressive throughout the knockout stage. Gasol put his stamp on the final early, scoring eight straight points for Spain to lead 19-6.
That helped the team overcome the loss of influential guard Rudy Fernandez halfway into the third quarter when he was fouled by Robertas Javtokas. Fernandez fell to the ground, was helped off the floor while holding his left hip and did not return.
Spain and Lithuania booked direct slots to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Spain won the silver medal in the past two Olympics, and Gasol said he would be around once again if his body holds up.
Spain guard Sergio Rodriguez joined Gasol in the tournament’s all-star team.
Ricky Rubio has made his triumphant return to the courts…
Playing in a game for the first time in nine months, the 22-year-old Spanish Minnesota Timberwolves star made his comeback in impressive fashion.
Rubio had nine assists and eight points in his 18 minutes of play on Saturday night to help lift the Timberwolves to a 114-106 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Andrei Kirilenko scored five of his 14 points in overtime while Rubio watched from the sideline because of a minutes restriction on his surgically repaired left knee.
“I didn’t feel nothing in the knee,” said Rubio. “I feel great. … I feel 100 percent. I have some issues in other parts now but it’s just like a normal thing.”
Nikola Pekovic scored 21 points for the Timberwolves, who have won their fourth straight game despite playing without All-Star Kevin Love because of an illness.
O.J. Mayo had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds and Shawn Marion had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, who led by 13 points early in the game before Rubio entered the game for the first time since he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in March.
“He brings us all energy, man. No words can really describe it,” said forward Derrick Williams. “You’ve just got to feel it out there on the court.”
Rubio fed Kirilenko for two free throws, then dived on the floor for a loose ball and later knocked down two free throws to tie the game at 100.
But he missed an open 3-pointer with a few seconds remaining that would have won the game in regulation.
No matter. Kirilenko hit two free throws, scored a three-point play and Pekovic finished the Mavs off with a three-point play of his own.
“It’s amazing. They give me a great gift, that ‘W’ in overtime,” said Rubio. “I think we’re going to do big things with this team this year. Just showing how we played in the overtime … It was amazing.”
More than 18,000 packed into Target Center in anticipation of Rubio’s return and erupted at the mere sight of his face on the video board during pregame festivities. He received a standing ovation when he got off the bench to enter the game for the first time with 1:47 to go in the first quarter.
“He’s a terrific player and he played well,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. “You couldn’t tell he’s been out for a year. So give him credit.”
The 22-year-old Spanish basketball star worked out with his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates on Friday and is “very close” to returning from torn left knee ligaments that have sidelined him since March, according to the team’s coach Rick Adelman.
Adelman believes Rubio might even be ready for Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, saying team officials will discuss Rubio’s return before the start of the game.
The coach says medical staff who’ve been monitoring Rubio haven’t reported any problems with his rehabilitation so far, which Adelman describes as “very consistent.”
The next step, says Adelman, is “to get him in games and see how he reacts,” adding that if Rubio plays, the Timberwolves won’t be able to predict how many minutes they can give him at first.
Rubio averaged 10.6 points and 8.2 assists as a rookie last season.