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Marc Gasol, Rubio, Llull, Rudy and Hernangomez brothers in Spain's World Cup squad
MADRID (Spain) - Spain have announced a star-laden squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, one that has plenty of NBA players and also several standouts from their European Qualifiers campaign.
Recently crowned NBA champion Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors, along with Ricky Rubio (Phoenix Suns) and the Hernangomez brothers, Willy (Charlotte Hornets) and Juancho (Denver Nuggets), are on the 16-man list.
|Spain's 16-player preliminary squad for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019|
|Pablo Aguilar||Javier Beiran||Victor Claver||Quino Colom|
|Ilimane Diop||Jaime Fernandez||Rudy Fernandez||Marc Gasol|
|Juancho Hernangomez||Willy Hernangomez||Sergio Llull||Pierre Oriola|
|Xavi Rabaseda||Pau Ribas||Ricky Rubio||Joan Sastre|
A couple of other former NBA players, Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver, are included as well.
There remains a strong connection to Spain's successful campaign of 2006, when they went undefeated and won the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Japan. Gasol and Fernandez were in that team. Pau Gasol, the MVP in 2006, several weeks ago had to rule himself out of the World Cup due to injury.
"Marc Gasol is destined to take a leadership step, is ready and is looking forward to it," Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. "He's going to be an important reference offensively and defensively, but he's not the only one that has to fill the void. His great talent and capacity is that he wants to generate for the team."
Point guard Sergio Rodriguez was also a World Cup winner in 2006 but is taking this summer off after a hard campaign with CSKA Moscow.
Quino Colom, one of the top point guards in the European Qualifiers, Jaime Fernandez, Javier Beiran and Xavi Rabaseda are all on the list. Colom averaged a team-high 13.7 points and 4.8 assists to lead Spain to 10 wins in their 12 games.
Colom's inclusion was expected after the veteran playmaker shone throughout the European Qualifiers. He was a terrific ball handler and excelled at knocking down the deep ball. Colom shot 48.5 percent (33 of 68) from 3-point range.
Jaime Fernandez impressed in 10 games in the European Qualifiers. Beiran, a standout in the Basketball Champions League the past few seasons with Iberostar Tenerife, played in nine European Qualifiers games while Rabaseda competed in five.
"It's enthusiastic to see some players that have contributed to help us qualify," Scariolo said. " We never promised them anything but to remember the commitment they had given. They are in their right to be here for their capacity and ability to play basketball and not just because they contributed to helping us qualify."
“MARC GASOL IS DESTINED TO TAKE A LEADERSHIP STEP, IS READY AND IS LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. HE'S GOING TO BE AN IMPORTANT REFERENCE OFFENSIVELY AND DEFENSIVELY, BUT HE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS TO FILL THE VOID. HIS GREAT TALENT AND CAPACITY IS THAT HE WANTS TO GENERATE FOR THE TEAM.”
Pierre Oriola, who made his debut at FIBA EuroBasket 2017, and Spain veteran Sergio Llull are in the 16. Llull has played in numerous tournaments for Spain over the years, including when the country hosted the World Cup five years ago.
Spain will launch their preparations on July 24 and play their first friendly game against Lithuania in Pamplona on August 2. During their warmups, they will take part in a tournament against Congo, Philippines and Cote d'Ivoire. Spain's last game will be in Madrid on August 22 against the Dominican Republic. They will leave for China a couple of days later.
Competing in Guangzhou in Group C against Iran, Puerto Rico and Tunisia, Spain must finish in the top two to advance to the Second Round and face, in Group H, the two countries that finish first and second in a Group D that consists of Serbia, Italy, Angola and the Philippines. The teams that finish in the top two in all four Second Round groups will advance to the Quarter-Finals.
Spain Basketball Federation President Jorge Garbajosa, who played for the 2006 title-winning side, said: "After a tough road in qualifying, it has allowed us to enlarge the squad. It's a mix of NBA, EuroLeague, window players, veterans and youngsters, versatile players. It's a very enthusiastic squad list. We have to be humble, have respect for the competition but with maximum ambition."