"Gasol could be in the sun in Miami and goes from challenge to challenge"

Roberto Dueñas, a former teammate at Barça, and Lucio Angulo, a rival with Madrid, recall some of the 13 Clásicos that Gasol played two decades ago.


Pau Gasol debuted with Barça in January 1999 in Cáceres and in the summer of that year he won gold in the Junior World Cup. The following course he began to accumulate minutes and flashes, like that irruption with 11 points in the second half of the quarterfinal Cup match against Madrid in Vitoria 2000. His meteoric career began, in the ACB and in the Classics, in fact, barely it was his second duel against the whites. A year and a half later, in the summer of 2001, he was flying to the NBA. Between December 11, 1999 and June 21, 2001, when he said goodbye to European basketball after breaking Madrid in the final (22 points and a PIR of 37 at 3-0), he accumulated 13 Classics with a growing role ( balance of 9-4) .

"It would have helped pay his clause"

Roberto Dueñas enjoyed it as a teammate and Lucio Angulo suffered it as a rival. The former Real Madrid striker remembers it like this: “His evolution was very fast, he had a lot of talent and a physique to develop, but mentally he was privileged, he understood the game. I remember the 2001 Malaga Cup, the one with its explosion (25 points with 12 of 14 in free throws). We prepare for the final without focusing excessively on him. We knew he could dribble, bounce and do many things, but the way he did them… He became more and more confident, just like Navarro did. Iturbe was the player Scariolo preferred to defend him, because then Pau also played forward. Three months later in the League final he was already indefensible, he had taken a brutal leap and that he left for the NBA, as a rival, had some liberation, it would have helped pay his clause (laughs). How decisive can it be now? His return is something fantastic, I am shocked by everything he can do. He could be sunbathing in Miami and, after two years without playing, he goes from challenge to challenge. ”

Lucio reminds us of an anecdote in the National Team, in which after a friction in the league, Imbroda told them to share a room: "We put down our suitcases, we looked at each other and we started laughing.""You just had to bug him a bit ..."

His ex-partner Dueñas recalls how "after two months," the star signing, Rony Seikaly, "wanted to go and Aíto, instead of bringing another player, opted for Gasol." “The most veteran of us tried to help him, Navarro too, and Pau got soaked in everything very quickly, maybe he just had to bite him a little to keep the intensity up. His level increased as the season progressed and when a rival meets such a player, to the point that it makes you feel inferior, it only remains to congratulate him. I think that was what happened to Madrid that year, as it has happened to me other times when I was on the opposite side. ”

A play that marks a career

Dueñas was the receiver of the play that Gasol himself chooses as his favorite in his career in Spain, one from field to field in his last Clásico before going to the NBA. The action begins on the defensive track, 20 meters from the rim, with a jog with a change of direction on the defense of Marko Milic, a very athletic forward, and then continues with a great run, another threat and a precise pass to all speed for Dueñas's mate with Zidek and Djordjevic overwhelmed. "Measuring 2.15 and showing such coordination, speed and handling of the ball, no wonder it left people with their mouths open, although we were used to seeing these things in training sessions," recalls Dueñas.

The pivot believes that 20 years later Gasol can retaliate in Europe: “In 2001 we won the Cup and League and in the Euroleague Benetton eliminated us because Pau was out for a month due to appendicitis. With the cards face up it is easy to say, but seeing their level we could have won the title. Now, 20 years later, he can retaliate. If his foot supports him, he will contribute very important things to the team that will make him be equally decisive in his own way. ”

Photos from as.com
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