There were doubts about the figure of Pau Gasol. After two seasons without playing and with 40 years of age, he even had them. For this reason, returning to Barcelona and showing that he still had afternoons of glory was a challenge for the Catalan, who on Friday, in the semifinals of the Final Four, shone like yesteryear. There were just a few flashes, ten minutes of pure talent, but his performance was key for the Barça club to play in a Euroleague final eleven years later today. He will do so against Anadolu Efes (8:30 pm, DAZN) in a high-tension duel between the two best squads on the continent.
When the call came from Juan Carlos Navarro, with the proposal to return home and play for Barcelona, Pau hesitated for a moment. He did not know if he could reach the level necessary to compete for a position in the powerful squad of the Barça club. Neither did Jasikevicius, his coach, know that the idea matured a lot before giving the go-ahead to the incorporation of the pivot. Almost two months after landing in Spain, Gasol has dispelled those doubts and is looking at the horizon with optimism. Starting with tonight’s final against Efes and continuing with the playoffs of the Endesa League and, of course, the Olympic Games. Predictable and expected end for his career, to which he hopes to reach better even than he showed in the Euroleague semi-finals.
There, against a leathery Armani, Gasol caught his best minutes in this second stage as a Barça player. Ten almost consecutive points, without failure, which helped the team to go into the break with a comfortable advantage. «I don’t have many games left, I hope to contribute, contribute and enjoy. I am very excited to be able to play the final», Acknowledged yesterday the Spanish, who has adapted perfectly to the secondary role that Jasikevicius has given him.
It has been two hard months for Gasol, who has had to combine the transfer and his new family life with the end of his recovery and return to the courts. His growth has been slow, supervised by his trusted physiotherapist –Joaquin Juan– and measured to the millimeter. Dosing his presence on the court until the explosion of the semifinals.
Without being the main protagonist, Pau is an unexpected wild card for Barcelona, which today will seek its third Euroleague. It will, in principle, with Calathes in the starting team, although the presence of the Greek will not be confirmed until the last moment. His ankle injury during the semifinals makes him a serious doubt for the most complicated clash of the Barça season.
Because if Efes has something, it is talent, especially in the base position where Micic and Larkin they are the main threat of a superlative team looking for its first Euroleague.