Moncho Lopez is forecasting a bright future for Spain - even though he may not be there to lead the national team as coach anymore.
Lopez guided the Spaniards to a European Championships silver medal and a place in the Olympics, with Pau Gasol and company looking capable of beating all-comers before running into a Lithuania buzzsaw in the final.
The Eastern Europeans, hailed for their uptempo, solid defensive approach, were deserving winners after knocking off France 74-70 in the semi-final and then winning convincingly over Spain, 93-84.
|“||Overall I have to make a positive balance from the Europeans||„|
"With the 'Dream Team' (USA) in the mix, that is going to be very hard, especially if they take their best players.
"However, I think we can talk about getting on the podium and there is nothing wrong in me saying that, because it is positive pressure and it helped us in these European Championships.”
A medal will be extremely hard to come by with the likes of Serbia & Montenegro expected to bring back some of their experienced players like Dejan Bodiroga of Barcelona.
Bodiroga took a well-earned break this summer after helping his country win the World Championships last summer, and his club Barcelona sweep all before them in the ACB, the Copa del Rey and the Euroleague.
Greece will be tough on their home floor and the likes of Argentina and Australia are sure to be formidable.
Spain must like their chances, though. Gasol will be a year older, as will the gritty guard Juan Carlos Navarro, who was outstanding at times in Sweden.
"Overall I have to make a positive balance from the Europeans because we achieved our aims even though a lot of people will remember that last defeat,” Lopez said.
"It hurt to lose, but with the passage of time, we see that we have one something important. This team has a big heart and that made us give everything, but Lithuania were the better side and maybe our nerves betrayed us."
Of all the NBA players who took part in the tournament, Spain’s Gasol was the one who enhanced his credentials.
He had glittering performances in most of their victories, but he also showed strength of character in their one defeat, battling the entire game even though Lithuania were always in control.
Lopez, the former Gijon coach, admitted that Spain were fortunate to have a player of Gasol’s talent and determination.
"It's obvious that it will be a long time before another Gasol appears,” Lopez said, “but there will be a lot of players, we have some youngsters of real promise who will be internationals if they continue to progress."