|08 July 2013|
|Ricky Rubio: "We are used to reach finals almost every summer and it looks easy from the outside but it is not, and this [EuroBasket] will mark the course for the future national sides."|
There are plenty who expect an end to the gold rush era of two-time European champions Spain at September's EuroBasket in Slovenia, but young Spanish star Ricky Rubio is having none of it.
"Spain first, which means we will play in the final; Serbia, Russia, or France will be candidates, pending absences of players from different teams," the Minnesota Timberwolves point guard risked a prediction for the EuroBasket 2013 winners in an interview with sports daily Marca.
"Perhaps we are not as favourites as in the past because of the absences, but the players who will be there will aspire to gold," Rubio explained.
"There are now some key pieces missing [from the national team], but we have to stay loyal to our mentality and seek first place."
There are few players in Europe who have been as instrumental to the success of any national team as Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro have been in the last decade for Spain, but both will be undergoing treatment this summer rather than joining preparations for the EuroBasket.
"It will be difficult, but we will compensate for their absence with the power of the team," said Rubio.
"In the clutch moments Marc [Gasol] for example can respond well, he has assumed this role various times and carried his team [the Memphis Grizzlies] this season.
"I also consider myself a player who can assume these decisions, but there are also [Jose] Calderon and Rudy [Fernandez], who are always ready for this moment."
In certain aspects, EuroBasket 2013 is perhaps more important to Spain than the golden editions of 2009, in Poland, and 2011, in Lithuania
"I think that this EuroBasket will mark the next decade," argued Rubio.
"Absences are always important, but the generation that arrives now with Marc, Rudy and Calderon leading, we are people who have to take the national team to a level where it maintains its 100%.
"We are used to reach finals almost every summer and it looks easy from the outside but it is not, and this will mark the course for the future national sides."
Spain were drawn in First Round Group C at the EuroBasket and will go up against hosts Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Georgia and the Czech Republic.