Lauri Markkanen, the Finnish prodigy who does not let Spain sleep

BarcelonaFinnish basketball doesn’t have many good stories to tell. Two of their best players, Pekka Markkanen and Riikka Ellonen, wrote some of the most important passages for their selection. He was named the best player in the country three times during the 90s. She, quite a pioneer, was one of the international players who paved the way for future generations. His sporting legacy, however, did not end with his retirement as all three of his sons became professional athletes.

The three children have made their way in the world of sport. Lauri has become one of the most decisive Eurobasket players, while his brothers have also made their way to football and basketball. Eero Markkanen, who currently plays for HIFK Helsinki, was one of Real Madrid’s future bets, but Zinedine Zidane sacked him from the white side claiming he was too fat. The footballer, who was accused of weighing 18 kilos more than his ideal weight, only scored two goals in ten games. Miikka Markkanen, for his part, opted for basketball, but a serious ankle injury slowed down his progress.

Lauri Markkanen, who currently plays for the Utah Jazz (NBA), is the great fear of the Spanish team to reach the semi-finals of the Eurobasket. After scoring 43 points against Croatia, everyone fears the versatile 2.13m tall player. His average is scary: 27.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. “It’s great to score 43 points, but all I cared about was winning the game. I’m just trying to help the team,” summarizes Markkanen, who has placed himself at the level of Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nikola Jokic. “It’s easier to win games with him,” says Sasu Salin, the Finn’s teammate and Lenovo Tenerife player.

After playing under Roy Williams at Kansas, Lauri’s father, Pekka, played for San Jose Euroarreglos for one year (1993-94). The Badaloní team, which had young players like Iván Corrales, Joffre Lleal, Dani García, César Sanmartín or Carles Marco, reached the promotion phase of the ACB, but lost against Salamanca (2-1) . “I have great memories of my time in Badalona”, says the former player, who also competed in Hungary, Germany, France and Finland.

“Pekka was very quiet”

“I remember he was a very quiet player. He had difficulties with English, and the rest of our teammates were very young. I guess he saw us in another tune. He had a good throw of four or five meters. In the summer of 2016, I met him at the Eurobasket U20 in Finland, where his son was playing. I greeted him and we talked for a while, reliving the memories of that season in Badalona,” explains Marco, who is currently in charge of selections for the Catalan Basketball Federation (FCBQ), to ARA.

The day before Markkanen made his EuroBasket debut, he saw the Cleveland Cavaliers trade him to the Utah Jazz in a trade that ended with Donovan Mitchell on Ricky Rubio’s team. Marked by injuries, continuity is one of the great pending subjects of the Finnish player, who continues to break stereotypes with his atypical transitions.


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