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Monday, February 19, 2018

Pau Gasol’s influence goes beyond the NBA

Por Fidel Orihuela

At his 37 years of age, Pau Gasol does not give up and keeps attacking the basket. His presence is like a giant that extends his domain over his influence zone, whether it is in the offense or the defense. Twice King of the NBA, six times All Star player, Rookie of the year in 2002, World Champion with Spain in 2006, three times Olympic medalist and the same amount of medals in World Championships are some of the prizes that the Catalonian player, also a leader in the EuroBasket, has achieved.

Precisely, this leadership put him in the last continental competition, at the Polyvalent Hall of Cluj-Napoca, Rumania. There, against Hungary, Gasol participated in Spain’s advance to the sixteen team round and he got the 13 points he needed to match Tony Parker’s record. The French player had 1104 points in the 39 edition of the EuroBasket in 2015. Facing a rival that did not offer resistance, the Spurs pivot scored 14 points, enough to match and surpass his French teammate of San Antonio.

In this tournament, Pau demonstrated that he is not a cold player that is good only under the basket, because, given the chance, he could score beyond the perimeter and get the three points. After completing the amount of points that he needed, he was complimented by both teams and also the public paid homage to the best Spanish player of all times. “It is something great, I have to thank all my teammates of so many years. But now there is no time to think of records, only to think of preparing ourselves for the last game, which is a life or death one”, said Gasol, always in the spotlight. The maximum scorer record is not a common one for pivots, that is why his achievements become even more relevant.

To have an idea, of the eight best scorers in the history of the EuroBasket, only the German player Dirk Nowitzki (third with 1052) and the Catalonian, have been pivots. The rest of the best scorers play as shooting guards and forwards. Among them we have Tony Parker, second with 1104, the Greek Nikos Galis (1030), the Czech Kamil Brabenec (948), the Israeli Mickey Berkowitz (917) and the two Iberians Juan Antonio San Epifanio Ruiz “Epi” (887) and Emiliano Rodríguez (864). Besides increasing his mark, Pau Gasol will be looking for the main title of the Continental competition with his team and will also try to win his third MVP after the ones he got in 2009 and 2015.