Pau Gasol hopes European Championship will help conditioning
This is the fourth post in an occasional series of Q&As with Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who is playing in the FIBA European Championships. Below is his email exchange with The Times.
Is there anything you’re focusing on specifically during training camp and looking ahead to at the European Championships?
I am focusing on getting in the best shape possible for the championship. It's going to be a very competitive tournament and I want to play as hard and as well as possible to help my team be the best.
How will that experience help with that?
When you keep in shape, it's always good. I have played with my national team eight out of my 10 NBA seasons and from a conditioning point of view I am very used to it, it's nothing new. The unique thing about this season is that I don't really know when it's going to start.
Compare and contrast this year’s national team to the Spanish team that won the European Championships two years ago.
That team was talented, but I even think that this team is more talented. Players like Marc, Ricky Rubio and Sergi Llull are much more experienced and the new ones like Ibaka or Sada are very talented. It's a different team and it's always difficult to make comparisons. To me winning is what makes a team better than another.
Are you particularly eager to help Spain after missing the FIBA World Championships last year?
I am excited to compete. I took the decision not to play the FIBA World Championships last summer and it's good to join the team and have the chance to fight to win for my country.
Do you wish in retrospect that you had played last summer for Spain?
I needed some rest and I think I made the right decision. Once decided there's not much sense in going back. It was good to have a break after 3 years of making in to the NBA finals and playing every summer with Spain.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Pau Gasol in action for Spain. Credit: Joe Klamari / AFP/Getty Images