Raptors’ Marc Gasol sees opportunity for Spain, others with stars skipping FIBA World Cup

Marc Gasol’s summer has been short and sweet, as he had to shift from winning his first NBA title with the Toronto Raptors in June to preparing for national team duty with Spain for the FIBA World Cup that begins Saturday in China.

“Normally, you have more time to recover and get ready for the next season,” the 7-foot-1 center said recently in English and Spanish interviews with ESPN. “This year, it’s pretty much jump from one season to the national team dynamic.

“It’s been a different year … great year.”nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Gasol’s Spain has as good a shot as several other teams to win the tournament — more so with top-ranked United States showing vulnerability in having its 78-game winning streak in international play snapped by Australia over the weekend. The Americans have had several All-Stars opt out of their roster this summer, including James Harden and Anthony Davis.

As Gasol sees it, others competing in the FIBA are also missing key people.2

“To me, that’s all excuses if you want to make it [that],” he said. “With the void of some players comes an opportunity for other players to step up and get great experience at a really high stage.”nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Greece looms large at the FIBA with the participation of reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Serbia with Nikola Jokic, Argentina with its scrappy veterans and Gasol’s Spain comprise a pack of eight or nine teams out of 32 contenders that Gasol said are at a similar level heading into the FIBA. Spacing challenges under smaller FIBA court dimensions and limited practice time together also help level the playing field.

“The outcome depends on timing, what teams peak at the right time and play good games when they mean the most,” said Gasol, who didn’t participate in Tuesday’s final FIBA tune-up against Argentina because of stomach problems.

The Spaniards are missing Nikola Mirotic, Serge Ibaka, Sergio Rodriguez and Gasol’s older brother, Pau. Still, the team will rely on a mix of youth and experience with players such as NBA and Spanish league veteran forward Rudy Fernandez, Phoenix Suns point guard Ricky Rubio and Charlotte Hornets center Willy Hernangomez.

Spain also has FIBA gold on its résumé. The 2006 world championship was Marc’s first year wearing the senior team colors and saw Pau Gasol win tournament MVP honors.

“That generation [of players born in 1980, such as Pau Gasol, Felipe Reyes and Raul Lopez] allows us to think we can still be the best,” Marc Gasol said.