The Eurobasket alarm clock is about to ring. The great tournament opens its doors tomorrow to the best players and teams of the Old Continent, a race in which, for the first time in a long time, Spain, 13 medals in 31 years, is only surpassed by two extinct nations such as the Soviet Union (21 ) and Yugoslavia (17), are not in the leading group to win the tournament. Or at least that follows the final list of 12 players that the coach Sergio Scariolo made it known yesterday (Juan Núñez and Fran Guerra were the last discarded), shortly before boarding a plane to Georgia, one of the venues for the championship, where the team will play the group playoffs.
The Tokyo Olympics last summer meant a turning point for Spanish basketball. The withdrawal of the national duty of the gasol brothers and del Chacho Rodríguez shelved one of the most successful stretches in the history of Spanish sport. A year later, Spain returns to the ring, although it does so with many changes and nuances.
Of the call that travels to Eastern Europe, only four players from Tokyo repeat (Willy Hernángómez, Usman Garuba, Rudy Fernández and Xabi López-Arostegui). A cast that, as is evident, is younger than its predecessor. If the previous expedition was over 30 years old on average, this one slips to 26, with up to seven members (Brown, Díaz, Jaime Fernández, Brizuela, Parra, Saiz and Pradilla) who make their debut in a major tournament with the absolute, while in the Games there were only three first-timers (Abalde, Garuba and López-Arostegui). In addition, with Brown the figure of the nationalized returns, absent since Rio 2016, a tournament in which he participated Nikola Mirotic.
In basketball, height continues to make a difference and if both lists are compared, differences appear: despite having practically the same average (2.01 meters by 1.98), if we talk about maximums and minimums, things change: Pau Gasol was the tallest player of the Tokyo call (2.16 centimeters), and it is Willy (2.11) who now holds the title. At the opposite pole, Sergio Rodríguez was the lowest a year ago and now Jaime Fernández is (1.86). One of the most striking data is that the inside game of Spain in the Eurobasket has an average of meters (205) equal to that of the forwards who participated in Japan.
In the club origins section, without a doubt, the most striking absence is that of members of Barcelona, something that has only happened once in the last 50 years, in the 2013 Eurobasket, when Juan Carlos Navarro he missed the appointment at the last minute due to an ankle injury. Another of the big differences between the two teams is their relationship with the NBA. Normally, national team rosters were packed with players wearing the colors of one of the 30 American league franchises. In the Olympic Games, Spain had up to eight members who played or had passed through the NBA (Rubio, el Chacho, Abrines, Rudy, Claver, Pau and Marc Gasol and Willy), while in the current only five (the Hernangómez, Brown, Rudy and Garuba) have that honor.