It was pretty clear early on in the matchup between Spain and Croatia on the opening day of Eurobasket 2013 that the Croatians were seriously outmatched against the second ranked team in the world. Former NBA player Rudy Fernandez helped lead Spain to a 68-40 win, as did NBA guard Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon. However, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was sure to make his impact felt, as well.
In 34 minutes of time on the floor, Gasol put up 14 points, a game-high 11 rebounds, one assist and one block while going 3-8 from the floor. However, that doesn’t factor in Gasol’s leadership on both ends of the floor, the fact that he got to the foul line 11 times, and the countless savvy plays Gasol made like swatting the ball off of the rim, which is legal under international rules.
Gasol essentially did for Spain on Wednesday what he does for the Grizzlies on a regular basis. He’s one of the smartest players in the league, particularly on defense, even if he doesn’t always have the blocks and steals to prove it. He’s always directing his teammates into the right position and forcing defenders to make rushed decisions with his defense, which obviously is a huge asset for whatever team he’s on.
As I wrote about recently, Gasol’s impact on the offensive end can’t go unmentioned, either. He wasn’t exceptional on that end of the floor on Wednesday, but he also didn’t have to be. He noticed the tendency of the Croatian team to initiate contact in the post, so he took advantage of it by trying to get to the line.
The grit-and-grind Grizzlies are looking to stay in the hunt in the Western Conference in the 2013-2014 season and Gasol is obviously going to be one of the leaders of their campaign. As he showed with Spain on Wednesday and as he shows on a nightly basis in Memphis, good things happen when you have a player of Gasol’s talent anchoring your frontcourt.
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