02 - 10
July 2022
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Carlos Jimenez: ''These Youth Events helped us grow''

MALAGA (Spain) - When most basketball fans hearken back to the best years of Carlos Jimenez, they remember him putting both hands on the Naismith Trophy and lifting it in celebration at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006 in Saitama, Japan.

Jimenez was the captain of the first Spain team to capture the world title.

Legendary moments are born from far less glamorous ones, though not less important. Jimenez, who attended the draw for this summer's FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup,  says he first felt the national pride in international competition with Spain at youth tournaments.

Jimenez helped Spain edge Argentina in a thrilling 2006 World Cup Semi-Final in Japan

Being a part of those youth teams, he says, was a crucial part of his development.

"These types of championships helped us grow because of the pressure of defending your country, which is a tremendous pride," he said.

After helping Spain clinch third place at the 1994 European Championship for Junior Men in Israel, Jimenez and his teammates travelled to Greece the following year and came in third at the World Championship for Junior Men.

It was the first time a Spain team had reached the podium of a World Championship in the youth categories.

Jimenez  (3rd on the left in the back) and the Spain team that clinched third at 1995 World Championship for Junior Men

Jorge Garbajosa, who would later become one of Spain's best players, joined Jimenez in the team that played at the 1997 World Championship for Men '22 and Under' in Australia, where they ended up in seventh.

Jimenez says he has "spectacular" memories of the youth World Cups.

"In my generation, we got a good result in the EuroBasket in Tel Aviv '94 and the Junior World Cup in Athens '95 was also incredible," he said. "We got a medal but the most important thing was the life and sports experience."

The world was a very different place back then. The experience of representing his country in the youth tournaments gave Jimenez an opportunity to do things he'd never experienced. He remembers everything happening fast.

"I think it was the first time I took a plane," he said. "The world was different, less globalized. No internet. I had hardly even played in the Madrid Regional team and suddenly I was playing with the best in my country against the best players in the world.

"I do remember the sorrow for a colleague who was left off the list at the last moment or who suffered an injury, but the experiences on my side were always very positive.

"Being part of that extraordinary generation of players was the greatest achievement for me. We achieved a good couple of championships and I think we were not able to continue the good run of results at the U22 World Cup because players began to leave for the United States (college teams) and I sincerely believe that the progression slowed down a bit because the training model was very different."


Jimenez says all of the experiences were formative and important.

"I believe in giving value to the competitive experience above the result," he said. "For us, in the Latin culture, the result is very important. But really the important thing was being able to measure yourself against the best players in the world. It made you grow. Then natural selection made us mix with other generations in the senior national team."

Jimenez had a terrific run with Spain's senior team. In all, he played at three World Cups, three Olympic Games and five FIBA EuroBaskets. His last experience was competing in one of the greatest Olympic Gold Medal Games of all time, against the USA in Beijing, China.

The contest was close until the final minute and the USA prevailed, 118-107. Jimenez had 12 points in that showdown.

As a part of Spain's golden generation, Jimenez was teammates with some of the biggest names international basketball has known like Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Garbajosa. His last summer, in Beijing, was the first senior team experience for Ricky Rubio.

Jimenez and Spain set new standards of excellence in the modern era of international basketball, in terms of continuity and success. 

"It was incredible to continue living experiences in the senior with later generations with whom we lived great successes," he said.

"You don't think about it at the moment, but if we begin to internalize a culture of work, effort and going for it all, that pride led us to continue growing, to want more. And when the generation of the 80 arrived, a perfect 'cocktail' was produced that wrote precious pages in the history of world basketball.

"That is why the young people who participate in this World Cup must arrive prepared to learn and enjoy every moment."