By Dionysis Aravantinos/ firstname.lastname@example.org
SHANGHAI — Spain’s Ricky Rubio became the FIBA World Cup all-time leader in assists as he passed Argentina’s Pablo Prigioni who dished 106 assists in 24 games.
The soon 29-year-old Rubio played his 22nd World Cup game in the quarterfinals against Poland during which he logged nine assists for a total of 115.
Prigioni, had 106 assists in 24 games played to lead that stat department since assists were included in the boxscore in 1994. Rubio tied him with 4 assists against Serbia, then went on to take the overall lead when he found a wide open Juancho Hernangomez for a three-pointer against Poland, early in the second quarter of the Quarter-Finals in Shanghai on Tuesday.
“It’s an honor, really, to be mentioned in the same sentence as one of my idols. I played against him multiple times and I learned a lot from him. Being named in the same category as him, it’s a huge honor,” Rubio said when informed he was right next to Pablo Prigioni at the top of the all-time list.
Rubio reached 106 assists in the 21st game of his World Cup career and took the overall lead in the 22nd one. With his level of play in China, praise has been coming from all over the world since day one.
Not surprisingly, Sergio Scariolo, who has overseen Rubio’s progress for most of his national team career, got emotional when asked about the growth of the new Phoenix Suns member.
“Before, when we were coming here, I was going through the past and I looked at a photo from the podium when we won (FIBA EuroBasket) in 2009. I was watching the faces of the players. You could see Ricky being really, really a baby. It was 10 years ago, he was 18, but my point is… When I took over, my decision was: ‘For however long I’m coaching this team, you will be my starting point guard.’ Because he’s special. He can do many different things, such a good passer, smart player, good defensive player. He’s finding his way, his balance between running the team and scoring now. He is still in process. I think Ricky is still on his way to improve, to finally get that balance between passing the ball and shooting the ball himself. He is close to the full maturity and best years are still to come for him,” Spanish national team coach smiled throughout his reply.
“We can go far in the World Cup”
Record aside, Rubio and his teammates are in the semifinals. “We can go far in the World Cup” he noted after the win over the Poles. “First we have to believe in it and second, we have to improve the defense and we should have fun playing.”
“In life, sometimes, there are hard times and joyful moments,” furthered Rubio. “There is a quote someone that I learned a lot from told me: “never too high, never too low.” It is a philosophy of life that goes very well.”
“We want to go far,” he repeated. “We will see the quarter-finals tomorrow, which we can observe in a different way knowing that we made the semifinals.”
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL