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31 August
15 September, 2019
9 Ricky Rubio (ESP)
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Rubio holds mom and the city of Beijing close to his heart

BEIJING (China) - On the biggest stage of international basketball, under the brightest lights, Ricky Rubio was bathed in praise and confetti.

It wasn't like that 11 years ago, when Spain lost in the Beijing 2008 Olympics  to Team USA in the Final, 118-107.

Then 17-year-old, Rubio did not look out of place, scoring 6 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and handing out 3 assists for Spain, but he couldn't stop Chris Paul from scoring 13 points and dishing out 5 dimes for the Americans, who beat Spain in the same venue where the Spaniards overpowered Argentina in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Final.

The irony and history are not lost on Rubio, who considers this city and this arena quite special.

"I wanted to enjoy the moment and remember, because it's something that's going to follow me for life," he said. "This tournament is special. This place will always be special, now and all time. Everything started here it, but it doesn't end here. This place holds a great chapter of my life."

Apart from that, however, Rubio also knows this victory comes with a particularly significant flavor. The TISSOT Most Valuable Player believes the growth in his game that everyone has seen and talked about comes not just from him, but also from someone else.

"Of course, there's someone always following me, too," he shared. "I lost my mom three years ago. I know she was behind me, pushing me every day to get the best out of me, and I know there's nobody in this world who loves me more than her. She's still driving me everyday."

The 28-year-old virtuoso floor general dedicated this moment to his mother, whom he knows remains with him through everything.

"Even if she's not here, I feel it," he said. "I'm really proud of the mom that I had, and I keep going for her."