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25 August
10 September, 2023
5 Rudy Fernandez (ESP)
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Fernandez and Garbajosa relive glorious title runs ahead of new journey to World Cup 2023

MIES (Switzerland) - Spain's Rudy Fernandez and Jorge Garbajosa relived the past while looking to the future at the draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

Two-time world champion Fernandez captained the Spaniards to glory at the World Cup two years ago in China and was a teammate of Garbajosa, now the president of the country's basketball federation, when the national team also won the event in 2006.

"It's a long time ago," Fernandez said. "I was so young in 2006 ... it was a great experience. And then in 2019, it was a great honor to represent my country as captain.

"Now I have two world titles and I never dreamed of that. With Marc Gasol, we represented our country in 2006, we were so young, but we learned a lot and it was a great honor to represent my country and to be in that situation, and now to take the next step to 2023."

Fernandez, one of Spain's best defenders and dunkers - especially early in his career - was asked during the draw about "Puso", a Filipino word which, when translated to English, means heart.

"It's great to play for all the people in my country, more (important) than all the titles."- Rudy Fernandez

Puso is also the word used to describe the Philippine brand of playing basketball. Fans in the Philippines hope, and expect, those who suit up for the national team to show an undying passion and spirit, to give their all while competing for a common cause. The whole should be greater than the sum of its parts.

When asked how puso related to his own national team career and success, Fernandez responded: "All the people know that my basketball is so much about heart. Puso for me, to represent my people, my country is the goal. When I'm on the court, I try to be at my best not only for me personally but for those around me.

"Sometimes you have a good tournament, sometimes it's a bad tournament. I think the goal of the national team, in my personal opinion, is the family. We stay in the family. It's great to play for all the people in my country, more (important) than all the titles."

Garbajosa, one of the finest power forwards in his nation's history, took center stage during the draw when he walked onto the stage carrying the Naismith Trophy that Spain had captured in China.

Fernandez and Garbajosa helped Spain win the World Cup for the first time in 2006

"It's a huge honor to get it two years ago and to put it now again (here on stage during the draw ceremony) on this exciting journey that we start over again today," Garbajosa said.

The World Cup that Garbajosa won as a player was the first to have 24 teams while the tournament in China increased the number to 32 countries taking part. Teams had to survive difficult qualifying campaigns just to take part.

Garbajosa bringing the goods back to the Patrick Baumann House of Basketball for the upcoming World Cup

The event is always prestigious. Garbajosa says there are some distinct differences between the World Cup he won and the one played two years ago.

"I would say it's pretty different," he said. "In 2006, it was a great experience for our country and all the members of the team, a great success for our basketball.

"But that last World Cup in 2019 was extremely exciting because it was not just a 15- or 17-day tournament, it was a two-year journey with basketball all over the world, in front of their fans in all of the countries, official games and really important ones to qualify for the World Cup. This extremely exciting journey ended in the best way, with the players getting this trophy for our fans."