Marc GASOL (Spain)
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Spain's Marc Gasol skips EuroBasket, eyes return in 2016

GIRONA (EuroBasket 2015) - Marc Gasol announced on Tuesday that he will take this summer off from national team duty and not play for Spain at the EuroBasket.

Having just signed a new five-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies worth a reported $110million, the 29-year-old says he thought long and hard about the possibility of traveling to Berlin with the national side to help it reach the Final and qualify for the Olympics but ultimately decided to take a break.

Gasol most recently wore the national team shirt at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where he had some big games.

Ultimately, Spain lost in the Quarter-Finals to France and missed out on their dream showdown with the United States in the Final.

Speaking at a press conference in Girona, Gasol, who first represented Spain in the 2001 European Championship for Cadets, said: "I've been competing with the national team for 14 years but my responsibility towards the Memphis team is also very important.

"It hasn't been easy because it's not a choice to make every day. I'm not retiring from the national team, it's just a stop to see how it works."

A 2.15m center, Gasol was voted to the All-NBA First Team this past season.

He became a free agent after the campaign but put pen to paper on his new deal with Memphis this week.

The club believed it was in Gasol's best interest not to play at the EuroBasket.

There will be moments, especially once the tournament gets underway for his compatriots in Berlin, that Gasol will feel the sting of staying away.

I don't remember a summer without playing with the national team but I'll be at home watching, suffering more than on the court. - Gasol

"I believe this year, the best thing is for me to rest," Gasol said.

"Not everyone will understand my decision.

"I have followed the advice of Memphis and will take the summer off.

"It's not easy to renounce voluntarily to play at a EuroBasket but I have a great responsibility towards the city of Memphis.

"God willing, next year I will be well, without injuries, and I'll be able to help the national team."

The door has opened a little wider for emerging star Guillermo "Willy" Hernangomez to make the senior team for the first time.

A 2.09m center who was taken with the fifth pick in the second round of last month's NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, Hernangomez only turned 21 at the end of May.

Both he and Gasol were among the 17 players in the preliminary squad that was announced by national team coach Sergio Scariolo last week.

Hernangomez is coming off a terrific season with Sevilla in Spain's top flight.

As for Gasol, he will be looking to hit the ground running when he and the other Grizzlies gather for pre-season training.

He spurned more lucrative offers to remain in the city that he now considers his home, including one by the San Antonio Spurs.

"My desire was to continue at Memphis," he said.

"Perhaps, had it been for the money, I would have taken a different decision.

"When a team like the San Antonio Spurs makes you an offer, it's good, but the decision to continue at Memphis has been something special.

"It's a feeling that I've had with the city. The responsibilities that I had towards my teammates, and towards my franchise and to the citizens of Memphis is what in the end has made me lean towards Memphis rather than another place."

Gasol may have turned down bigger offers but he is still going to earn a lot of money.

"They're figures that give you vertigo but that is the money that the NBA moves," he said.

"That's how it works. I could never have imagined those figures.

"It will help me to be calmer, for example with the [basketball] school that I have in Girona, and to continue to work in other areas.

"It's been a beautiful decision. I was really looking forward to building on what we started seven years ago.

"I've got five years to continue to make them proud of what they have chosen."

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