Last week, 13 years of the gold of Spain were celebrated at the World Cup in Japan. The highest level of a legendary team that had already been flirting with medals and that, since then, has been present in 10 of the 12 possible podiums in the big events. A momentous anniversary in the history of Spanish basketball and crucial to the life of Marc Gasol “In 2006 he was a very young boy. I arrived at the group without knowing very well where I was going but, thanks to the selection, I understood what professional basketball was. From there, everything has gone up, ”said the NBA champion before leaving for China with the poster of the Plenipotentiary leader of the Scariolo team. Spain reaches the World Cup semifinal against Australia (this Friday, 10.00, Four) illuminated by Ricky and hugged as never to Marc to hit the ocean rock.
In Japan he started as player number 12 and gave him time to be decisive in the final in which his brother was missing due to injury; in China, in his first great mission as number one, again in the absence of Pau, he seeks national consecration. “I am enjoying and that makes everything worthwhile,” says the Raptors center, with the certified classification for Games in which Pau will say goodbye, the last of gold juniors. Marc's figures are still discrete (11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists on average), but his influence is decisive as demonstrated against Poland (+22 with him on the track in just 23 minutes). “Sometimes you are more successful in scoring and other times you have to lead the game, attracting the opponent or with blocks and always scoring from the defense. You have to look for the team, ”he proclaims. With the same poise and presence inside and outside the parquet, its management proceeds by anesthetizing the ailments with ambition. "I don't know how much I have left in the deposit, but I will give what I have."
After a marathon season with 103 games, a move from Memphis to Toronto and about playoffs trepidants that led to the conquest of the ring, Marc did not hesitate to get on the boat of the national team with only a month of rest and disconnection, less than any of his teammates. “Physically he finished exhausted after the sixth game of the final. But he told us that he had basketball left in his hands, head and heart, ”Scariolo explained to praise his commitment in a call marked by absences. As the World Cup event approached, the injuries accumulated and the resignations were intuited, the Federation addressed Marc with understanding, care and even a certain hurry for the over-demand to which he was being charged, but they always found loyalty in response. "I'm going to be. It is necessary to be ”, was the motto that repeated to the president, Jorge Garbajosa, when he visited him in March in full maelstrom of trips and meetings.
At 34, he has 180 internationals and eight medals with Spain. Marc's loyalty to the national team, which he has only missed in two championships (2015 and 2016) in 13 years, for Memphis ban one and for a foot injury the other, is inherited by the passion of his brother Pau and the call that changed his life. The one that Pepu Hernández did to him, in summer of 2006 and with the concentration already underway, to complete the list of the World Cup after the injury of Fran Vázquez. “I asked Pau: What does your brother do? Nothing, there is lying on the couch, 'he told me. And, indeed, Marc was on the couch, coke and pizza, doing nothing. He was depressed because he had a very bad season at Barça, with injuries and not counting anything for the coach (Ivanovic). I was touched, ”recalls the former selector.
In the concentration were Hernández Sonseca and Jordi Trías as guests but, before the contingency, Pepu opted for Marc despite the risks due to his fitness and reluctance to his last name. “It was not easy because the team was already half launched and he started from scratch. But he began to work like a beast on the court and especially outside the court. The call recovered him not only for the World Cup, but for his sporting life. it was a before and an after. It was his launch ”, continues Pepu, who remembers those days of the center of Sant Boi“ lettuce and tomato ”in which hunger unleashed the beast in training. “There was a moment that we began to worry. There was a lot of confidence between the two brothers in the training and they fell in love with it, legally and illegally. We had Rafa Vecina more than a technician, a peacemaker, to get in the middle and not go over revolutions. They were very itchy, ”the technician reviews. "In China it is facing a tremendous challenge after its great trip," Pepu completes.
“In that summer of 2006 he began to build a personality that today is at its best. He was in a period of vital indefinition and with that starting point he has become a historical athlete in our country. We all need a moment in our careers when someone bet for us. Now we are facing a Marc very at peace with himself, with his family, with his surroundings, with his profession. It's a pass ”, Garbajosa reviews, then one of the veterans who received that“ big boy ”of 21 years in the World Cup team. That mature and serene Marc is the one who calmed down the doubts of the first phase, the one that instructs his teammates on the track and even in the press conferences, the one that chisels the ambition of the group and the one who takes the time Gasol stamp and the flag of the national team in China.