Last March, Jorge Garbajosa traveled to the United States to see firsthand the availability of Spanish players in the NBA to go to the World Cup. Not that it was necessary, but in each meeting, the president dissected the preparation tour and explained every detail. At a time of dinner he shared with Marc Gasol, the Catalan stopped him. "Do not tell me more, that I will be," said the pivot, committed from the first moment, without conditions. A few months later, with an NBA champion ring in hand, Marc was yesterday one of the happiest in the presentation of the national team, which today will begin training to prepare for the World Cup that will begin at the end of August .
Among the 16 chosen by Sergio Scariolo there are notable absences. Juan Carlos Navarro is no longer retired, nor is Pau Gasol, whose injury has prevented him from joining the concentration. Without these two references all eyes point to the number "13" of Marc Gasol. The leader everyone embraces to achieve the goal of the podium. "I assume that leadership naturally, but everyone should be a reference in their field and do their best," said the Catalan yesterday, who will be the epicenter of the national team's game.
At 34, he knows that he does not have many opportunities to defend the shield of Spain and that is why he has not cared to reduce his vacation to be with the national team. The pivot is one of those who has had less rest since the end of the NBA – about a month after we consider that the celebrations in Canada lasted almost a week after winning the title – but his mood was for clouds «I am ambitious and aspire to the fullest. Our strength must be in the group, ”he acknowledged, in a nod to his teammates.
They all see it as a reference. A leader. The player to lean on to achieve the goal of getting back on the podium. «Marc is our best player. He has just won the ring proving that he can be one of the leaders of the NBA champion. He is one of the best Europeans in the American league, has been a defender of the year … There are many reasons to consider him a leader. His brother Pau has been for many years in the national team and Marc is more than prepared to assume that role and in the team we are very happy that he is like that ”, recognizes Juancho Hernangómez, the youngest of the national team, although one of the called to take a step forward in its relevance within the team.
«At the height of the story»
Like him, Ricky Rubio also gave the leadership of the national team to Marc Gasol, although he asked to share that responsibility. «Of course it is our reference, as Pau, Navarro or Felipe Reyes were before. Marc has experience and is going through one of the best moments of his career. We will have to rely on him a lot, but I think it is the year in which this responsibility will be most distributed, ”said the new Suns base.
For his part, Scariolo also pointed to the center as the epicenter of the Spanish game and called for an effort to forget about absences and focus on what lies ahead. «We must live up to our own history, following the philosophy of recent years. Be a team and sacrifice, ”said the Italian, who must rule out four of the 16 players who will start training on Friday. .