| ||Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003. |
One of the nicest stories to come out of last year's EuroBasket was the deserved recognition for Victor Sada of Spain.
In a country that produces some of the finest basketball talent in the world, a player has to not only be good but lucky when it comes to making the Spain squad.
"Normally in a country like Spain, you have 15 or 16 players who can fit perfectly but the problem is that you can only bring 12," said Spain coach Sergio Scariolo last week.
|Victor Sada knows he can never be guaranteed a spot in a team as deep as Spain is |
Sada, 27, had a solid campaign in the Barcelona backcourt, averaging more than 16 minutes per game in both the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the ACB.
He then impressed during the preparations and made the team that travelled to the Baltics.
The Barcelona native played in nine of Spain's 11 games in Lithuania and on September 18, wore the biggest of grins when stepping onto the podium in Kaunas and having a gold medal hung around his neck.
He has now played for one of the biggest clubs in Europe, Barcelona, and represented his Spain.
Both experiences have been great, he says.
"There are differences when playing in the national team and in a club," he says.
"In the national team, the whole group speaks the same language, the preparation is different.
"We know each other for a long time, we know what role each of us has and I'm very happy in both Barcelona and the national team."
Sada was one of three guards from Barcelona to make the national team, a fact that speaks volumes about the quality of players with the Blaugrana, a team that came up short of the 2011 Euroleague Final Four but did win the Spanish title and, once again, the Copa del Rey.
Competition for places in the Spanish Olympic squad will be fierce.
Ricky Rubio has left Barca for the NBA and is putting together a season with the Minnesota Timberwolves that will see him vie for Rookie of the Year honors.
Jose Calderon is the starting point guard for the Toronto Raptors.
He was banged up after a hard NBA season and didn't play at EuroBasket 2009, and then an injury, late in Spain's preparations for the 2010 FIBA World Championship, forced him to pull out of the squad, but in Lithuania, Calderon not only returned but left no doubt about his importance to the team.
Barcelona's Juan Carlos Navarro, the EuroBasket 2011 MVP, is a lock to make the Olympic squad and others are chomping at the bit to play, like Real Madrid's Sergio Rodriguez.
Sada won't be certain of his place until Scariolo announces his final squad.
"I hope I can repeat and play for Spain at the Olympics because it would be a big thing for me," Sada says.
"But I never think too far ahead.
"In previous years, I was linked to have a spot in the national team but then I wouldn't be selected and I didn't dwell too much on it.
"I just kept working hard and I had a very good season individually and from a team point last season and I was included in the group."
Sada knows from past experience that he can't control everything.
All he can do is work hard and hopefully be an important part of a Barcelona side that wins more titles.
"This season I will have to earn a spot again but the group that we had in Lithuania is there," he said.
"Things went well for us in Lithuania.
"We lost just one game and we played at a great level and I guess the majority of the group will be there and I am confident I will be there, too."