By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Three months into his second stint with FC Barcelona, Pau Gasol will have the opportunity to claim the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague championship for the first time. Those two runs separated by a couple of decades with a lengthy and successful NBA career, all leading up to the Final Four championship game.
“Kobe played as hard as he could,” said Gasol referring to the late Kobe Bryant’s approach to key fixtures, “He was always himself until the very last game. I am trying to be me, but at the same time do what I have to do, compliment my coach and teammates. That’s all I am trying to do here.”
“He was one of the greatest players ever, if not the greatest for me,” he added during the championship game press conference, “Hopefully, he will be watching.”
Gasol, 40, the oldest player to appear in the EuroLeague Final Four, assisted Kobe in the 2009 and 2010 championships won by the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We played three finals together. Kobe did not say a lot. He just brought the mindset and aggressiveness and the leadership on the court,” he recalled, “It’s a different situation even though we are going into a final. We all understand what we are playing for. Both teams have worked hard to get here and have earned the chance to play this Final. It’s just up to going out and competing and playing better than your opponent. That is what we will try to do.”
The Final versus Anadolu Efes will be held tomorrow, Sunday, at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.