Without Pau, Spain Still Aspire To Gold

15 May 2013
Juan Antonio Orenga, Spain
Juan Antonio Orenga is convinced that Spain will present a strong frontcourt in Slovenia despite Pau Gasol's absence

Spanish national team head coach Juan Antonio Orenga has sent a message of optimism to fans in the wake of Pau Gasol's open letter, published on Tuesday, announcing that he will have to miss out on EuroBasket 2013.

"Our aspiration remains the same, to win the EuroBasket," the coach of the reigning European champions said on Spanish national radio.

Orenga expressed his conviction that the void left by the 32-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star on the Spanish team will be filled by his brother Marc and Serge Ibaka.

"Pau is a brilliant player who can make a difference and it would be fantastic if he could be there [at the EuroBasket]," he explained.

"But Marc Gasol and Ibaka are fantastic, they are playing at a spectacular level in the NBA right now."

The two big men the Spanish national team will rely upon in September are battling it out in the NBA Western Conference semi-final series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder, with Gasol's team currently leading the series 3-1.

Spain had a frontcourt composed of the Gasol brothers, Ibaka and Felipe Reyes when they conquered their second consecutive EuroBasket title in 2011.

After the London Olympics last summer, Reyes already made public his decision to retire from international duty.

Pau Gasol's announcement on Monday that the time schedule of his recuperation from ultrasonic treatment will not allow him to join the national team in the summer did not come as a surprise to Orenga - the letter was prepared in conjunction with the Spanish Federation (FEB) and published on its official website.

"I was aware of the news for some time," Orenga revealed.

"I talk often with Pau and I knew the situation.

"The only thing we can avoid is our players coming with physical problems, and this is what has happened with Pau.

4. Pau Gasol (Spain)
Gasol will take the summer off to fully recover for the new season

Orenga dismissed fiercely suggestions that Pau Gasol could have forced his rehabilitation timetable in order to join the Spanish team in Slovenia.

"When players say that their hope is to be at the EuroBasket it's because that is really what they want and that's how they feel it," Orenga said.

"His [Pau's] compromise is absolute and his willingness to be there is maximum.

"What we have to do now is to wish him a swift recuperation so that he can be with us and help out in the coming years."

FEB President José Luis Sáez echoed the sentiment in a separate interview on Onda Cero radio station, when asked whether EuroBasket 2011 MVP and national team captain Juan Carlos Navarro, whose season has been tormented by injuries, would be the next to announce his absence from September's EuroBasket.

"What is best for Pau, which is what we all want, is the decision he has taken," Saez said.

"Navarro keeps having the will and hope, if he can be there, he will be there.

"Whatever decision he takes will be entirely respected."

On the other hand, the FEB President was adamant that Ibaka would still join the team after a long and taxing NBA season:

"Ibaka is not a player who takes holidays, he is one of those who goes to practice even on days off."

Spain were drawn in First Round Group C at the EuroBasket, together with Georgia, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic and hosts Slovenia.


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