Spain repeated as EuroBasket champions in Lithuania with Marc Gasol playing a big role in the Iberians’ success. heinnews’s David Hein spoke to the star center after Spain’s victory over France and discussed being a repeat champion, playing the tournament as favorites, Serge Ibaka’s impact on the team, the goal for the 2012 Olympics and the NBA lockout.

heinnews: How does it feel to have the gold medal – again?

Gasol: It feels great. The first one (in 2007) was really difficult when we lost in Madrid in the final. In Poland we won and here again. We grew in the tournament. We got better and better in each game, especially our defense. At the end of the day, when you play team defense, it takes it to another level. On offense we have so much talent that you cannot focus on one player. You cannot focus on Navarro or Pau will score inside on you. If you stop the pick-and-roll, we’re going to do something else. And we share the ball. There’s no selfish player here.  Everybody wants to win and they know how to win.

heinnews: How can you describe the difference between this team and the one last year?

Gasol: Well, it’s a huge difference when you add Pau and Serge. You can lose, and when you lose with that ending (a long three-pointer late by Milos Teodosic against Serbia) and that passion you can lose. There’s no problem with that. In sports you can lose, as long as you have the same pride and you are playing for the same reasons there is no problem with losing – as long as you play for the right reasons.

heinnews: Spain came into the EuroBasket 2011 as the heavy favorites. How hard was that to go from start to finish as favorites in this tournament?

Gasol: It’s a motivation. I don’t think it’s pressure. Nobody here feels any pressure. When they say you’re the best you have to prove it. You have to work from day one and keep keeping better. And starting in Panevezys we continued to get better. We worked hard and here we are now with the gold medal.

heinnews: Serge Ibaka had a huge game in the final with his defense. How important has the inclusion of him into this team been?

Gasol: Really, really important. He gives us another dimension. His ability to impact the game defensively and offensively is a great addition. Serge is a great player and really young. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s going to keep getting better and better.

heinnews: With the Olympics coming next year, is the gold medal the goal in London?

Gasol: The goal really is to keep playing the same way. And keep showing the same team spirit. We are all together. We are a unit. We just want to compete, and compete against the best. And definitely next year in London it’s going to be a great challenge and we are really waiting for it.

heinnews: What do you personally do now that this tournament is over? A bit of vacation?

Gasol: Just rest up a couple of days and take in this great win and then getting back to work as soon as possible.

heinnews: What are your thoughts on the NBA lockout?

Gasol: The most important thing is to stay together and as players try to get the best thing we can. It’s not easy. Nobody likes it. Everybody wants to play. But it’s better to get no deal than a bad deal for us.  We all know that and we’ll see what happens.

heinnews: Have you thought about what you’d do afterwards if the season didn’t take place?

Gasol: I don’t know. The next couple of days is going to be a thought process for a lot of us. At least for me since I don’t have a contract. But we’ll see what happens.




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