By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Going into the 2022 EuroBasket minus several stars leading to multiple medals over the past decades, Spain was not labeled as a favorite to capture gold. An extended run in the knockout stage would initially be considered an optimistic projection. But the result proved pundits wrong.
Rewinding to the previous generation of stars, a large chunk of the success was credited to Pau and Marc Gasol, carrying an unmatchable resume spilling from the international level into the NBA. From the Gasol brothers to the Hernangomez brothers extending the family theme in La Familia itself and in the best league of the world. The passing of the torch in the Spain national team saw Juancho named TCL Player of the Game in the final versus France and Willy get the tournament MVP award.
It was not the first rodeo for either but the first with La Roja officially transitioning to the next generation. Captain Rudy Fernandez and head coach Sergio Scariolo were the most significant links to the past. The outcome was Spain winning EuroBasket gold for the fourth time in history.
“It is impossible for two brothers like the Gasols to emerge at that level,” Willy had predicted commenting on comparisons made earlier in his career, “Two All-Stars. It is very difficult for something like that to happen again.”
“It will be very difficult for something similar to the Gasols to be repeated,” echoed his brother, “If we reached half of their level in the future, it would be fine.”
From the humble beginnings to the explosive result in Berlin. More to come for sure with a vote of confidence issued by both Fernandez and Scariolo.
“They are like my brothers,” mentioned the 37-year-old wingman, relays Marca in a story on the Hernangomez brothers, “They are the present of the national team and proved it.”
“From now on, there will be a different approach to Willy from everyone,” added Spain’s selector, “This basketball and these teammates deserve him as a leader.”
Willy, 28, is now heading to his seventh NBA campaign and third at the New Orleans Pelicans. Mostly coming off the bench, he has become a fan favorite at his third NBA team following the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. This time around, he will return as the EuroBasket MVP.
Juan, 26, signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Raptors before EuroBasket. Moving around during his NBA run landed him at the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Denver Nuggets over the past six seasons.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL