Stephen Curry (USA); 9 Renaldas SEIBUTIS (Lithuania)
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Mesmerizing Gasol, Curry catch the eye of famous football managers

MIES (2016 Rio Olympics) - Some athletes put on such riveting, awe-inspiring displays in big games that they become points of reference in other sports.

Such has been the case of late with both Pau Gasol of Spain and Stephen Curry of the USA, a couple of iconic players that are expected to represent their countries at next year's Olympics in Brazil.

While Gasol was putting in one heroic performance after another for his national team at EuroBasket 2015 in France, a Pau euphoria swept across the Iberian Peninsula that captivated plenty of people.

One admirer was Rafa Benitez, the Real Madrid football manager, who referred to Gasol in one of his press conferences when talking about the importance of his own leading player, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Speaking after Gasol had led Spain into next year's Rio de Janeiro Games with a 40-point, 11-rebound and three-block performance in an 80-75 win over EuroBasket hosts and defending champions France, Benitez said: "Cristiano is our Pau Gasol, he is our most important player and we want him to help our team win titles.

"Gasol was a difference-maker, and Cristiano can be that for us."

Gasol, after Spain beat Lithuania in the Final, was named the EuroBasket's Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career.

He was also the MVP of the 2006 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Another football manager, Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola, likened one of his players to the USA's Curry following a fantastic effort.

Curry made headlines around the world last season in the NBA playoffs when he fired the Golden State Warriors to its first title in 40 years.

Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski drew the comparison after he entered a Bundesliga game on 22 September as a substitute with Wolfsburg leading 1-0.

He scored five goals in nine incredible minutes to give the German giants a famous win.

"When Robert Lewandowski scored five goals, I thought of Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors," Guardiola said.

"Because Curry can hit a string of three-pointers when he is on fire. So I think Lewandowski is our Stephen Curry."

Curry, after helping the USA win the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, hit 286 of his 646 three-pointers during the 2014-15 regular season and scooped the honor as the league's Most Valuable Player.

He then connected on 98 of his 232 attempts (42.2 percent) from behind the arc in the post-season, which ended with a Golden State NBA Finals triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers.