By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After conquering the gold medal in Eurobasket 2013, the absolute leader of French national team, Tony Parker, was a lock for the player of the year award by FIBA Europe. Euroleague back to back champion Vasilis Spanoulis was second in the voting behind him, but he has nothing but praise for his big opponent and old friend since their days in the junior national teams…
“He deserved it”
As the Greek guard said to Eurohoops:”I want to congratulate Tony Parker. He deserved the title 100% and I was very happy for him. He had an amazing season in the NBA and also a great tournament with his national team. For many years he is among the elite of world basketball and his endurance in the top level is what defines his class as an athlete. He couldn’t get the NBA title, despite having great performance in the finals, but what he really wanted for many years happened in Slovenia”.
Spanoulis knows the struggles of the French national team: “He wanted to lead France to the gold medal and never gave up. He finally got what he wanted, he enjoyed and the player of the year award is something that he more than deserves. He has won the NBA championship and has many individual achievements, so I don’t have to say much. He is one of the best in the world”.
“It belongs to the team”
The second place for Vasilis Spanoulis is not that bad, considering the fact that he beat NBA defensive player of the year Marc Gasol who had a better Eurobasket tournament than him. Spanoulis after a season in the NBA as a member of the Rockets, decided to return to Europe, where he is hailed as one of the biggest stars of the sport. He was the season MVP of Euroleague for 2012-13 and also the Final Four MVP for the last two seasons, but he considers the votes he got a team achievement.
As he said: “To be voted over European players who have a great career in the NBA and specially Marc Gasol who had a great season in Memphis can be considered a proof that many of the voters understand that it’s not easy to get also on the top of Europe and that they also appreciate European basketball. It’s satisfying, it’s fair and it’s also one more facet of the globalization of the sport. It’s not a personal vindication for my decision to stay in Europe. After all, that’s what I wanted to do and I am not a man of regrets. On the contrary I do what I must in order to support my choices”.
For V-Span it was one more success for his team and he hopes that it will help fans in Greece appreciate the importance of basketball in terms besides the rivalry between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos: “This achievement is something that has to do also with the success of Olympiacos and it’s also a result of winning back to back Euroleague titles. It was easy. I want to thank all my teammates, my coaches and Olympiacos’ organization. It’s not just my personal achievement. I wish for us to stay healthy, because that’s the most important thing. I still have a great motive and every day I wake up I feel it. There’s much respect for Greek basketball outside Greek borders in every level. We will also respect ourselves and don’t forget that we speak about sports. That means spectacle, joy, something sadness, but always civilization”.