The Spanish national team is the most successful European team of recent years. The silver medal at the Olympics only confirmed this trend. Besides the coaching question that reigns at the moment, I will today look at the future in terms of player material.
The core of the Spanish team is of course the Golden Generation of the 1980-born players: Pau Gasol, Juanca Navarro, Felipe Reyes, Raul Lopez and Berni Rodriguez were all born that year and alone would form a starting five capable of lots of wins. If you add players from ’79 and ’81 — I’m speaking of Alex Mumbru and Jose Manuel Calderon, you have a super-strong core of players at about 32 years old for London 2012. Spain’s big advantage, however, is that they have already an impressive number of quality players to take over the lead if the “old” guys start to slow down. The 1985-born Rudy Fernandez and Marc Gasol will bring their energy for a long time to come in the national team.
The question about both is how they will adapt to the NBA game. With Gasol and Calderon, Spain will have four NBA players; how this impacts the national team must be clarified. And if you add the possibility of Ricky Rubio joining the NBA within the nexxxxxt (no typo – just your last letter to win some free k1x stuff) four years, nearly half of the Spanish team will be built on NBA players.
But let’s check the rest of the team, especially the two older players. Jorge Garbajosa will probably not stay with the team until 2012. Since his injury, his impact on the team has decreased and how his comeback to Europe this year works out remains to be seen. The other older guy — albeit in a different situation — is Carlos Jimenez. Jimenez’ impact has probably never been greater than it is at the moment, and he was particularly present in the big games. His experience is highly necessary for the team. However, I don’t see him staying with the squad until the London Olympics in four years, when he would be 36.
So it looks as though the Spanish team will mostly stay the same until London 2012 except for maybe two or three players. And all of them are wings. Who could earn a spot in coming seasons? The first name to mention of course is Victor Claver, who was among the last cuts to the team. The power forward from Pamesa will probably move into the team in replacement of Jimenez or Garbajosa if either retires. But the coaching decision will also have an impact here. If the team wants to remain with experienced guys, Claver may have to wait one or two more tournaments.
Another player that we could see joining the team is Fernando San Emeterio. His move to TAU will give him lots of experience in the Euroleague and his creativity could be a nice addition to the team. Victor Sada is also on the edge of joining the national team while Coach Reneses also used Juanjo Triguero during the preparation phase. When looking into the younger range of players for the wing positions, Albert Moncasi who recently left Barcelona to see more minutes, could be an interesting player to follow for the 2012 tournament, too. My prediction for the 2012 roster would therefore be the following.
Guards: Rubio, Calderon, Navarro, Fernandez, Lopez;
Forwards: Reyes, Mumbru, Claver, San Emeterio, Garbajosa;
Centers: Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol.
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