Pau Gasol passes the mantle of FIBA excellence to Giannis

2019-08-28T17:00:26+00:00 2019-08-31T09:58:36+00:00.

Aris Barkas

28/Aug/19 17:00

The last non-American FIBA World Cup MVP talks to Eurohoops about Giannis Antetokounmpo, success with the national team, Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement and his own future

By Nikos Varlas/

Don Pau Gasol is well respected in the NBA. A two-time champion doesn’t need any introduction. However, what often gets overlooked in the States is his dominance in the FIBA tournaments. Spearheaded by Pau, the Spanish “Golden Boys” remain top contenders in any competition for 15 years.

Starting from the silver medal in Eurobasket 2003, Pau Gasol went on to win a total of 11 medals in 14 years with the Spanish national team. Three of them were Eurobasket golds and one, back in 2006, a FIBA World Cup title.  Pau was the MVP of that tournament, the last non-American MVP of a FIBA World Cup.

With French icon Tony Parker and German legend Dirk Nowitzki calling it a day this summer, Pau Gasol is the only active member of the European “Holy trinity” that established European players in the NBA.

It’s a proud tradition, which spectacularly continues today with some of the biggest global basketball stars being international players. And one of them, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was a teammate of Pau in the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Players like Papaloukas, Diamantidis, and Spanoulis had a great commitment, passion, and pride when played in the Greek national team and Giannis also has that for Greece,” said Gasol when asked if he thinks that the previous generation of Greek stars influenced the Greek Freak. “And you can say that the playmaking of Papaloukas and Spanoulis made Giannis grow in that type of a playmaker,” explains Gasol, “but Giannis has a unique ability to play this game, to physically overpower people, and it’s a unique category because very few people have been able to do that. He can grow into a complete player. And who knows what’s his ceiling. That’s why we have to enjoy his journey and not compare him to others.  And I hope that Giannis also dedicates time and effort into his national team to give great successes and moments to his country. That was something that I was able to do, and it’s hard to do when you devote yourself to the NBA”.

Pau Gasol talks about Giannis’ journey, the things that make him unique and about the retirement of one of his great opponents on the NBA and the FIBA courts, Dirk Nowitzki.