17 abril 2008

Marc, the other Gasol

Marc Gasol, con la camiseta del Akasvayu Giron...                            Image via Wikipedia
In a league that thrives off player rivalries, it's hard to look away whenever the opportunity of two brothers squaring off against each other on America's greatest stage rears its head. Such is the case with untested Spanish prospect Marc Gasol.

When the 23-year-old centre came close to missing the 2006 World Championship in Japan, yet turned out to be one of the keystones of the Spanish national team's victory, it became even harder to pretend a maddening level of skills didn't run in the family.

Up until that moment he was know just as Pau's little brother, but Marc has grown as a player ever since. Leaving F.C. Barcelona (the same team Pau started his career and didn't get the opportunity to show his skills) for Girona has helped his development as well.
How good is Marc? The stats tell us he's the best player of the Spanish league, the ACB. Only Rudy Fernandez, the future Portland Trailblazer, comes close in comparison.

If little Gasol decides to start his NBA career, it will be his second American venture. He did, after all, play high school ball in Memphis, at Lausanne High School, when the Gasol family followed Pau overseas upon his being drafted by the Grizzlies in 2001. Although Marc got several offers to play ball in an American college, he decided to return to Spain and play for F.C. Barcelona.

Two years passed and he didn't get many chances to show his potential, at least until the gold medal in Japan and the move to Girona that changed his future.

During the 2006-07 season in Girona, Gasol started 11 of 33 games, shooting 62.1% on two-point attempts (123 of 198). He averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, but it has been the 2007-08 season when he really exploded with 16.5 points and 7.9 boards per game. This season he has won the weekly MVP award seven times and is close to tying the record currently held by Arvydas Sabonis. The now-retired Lithuanian giant won the award ten times before playing for the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1990's.

Gasol's NBA rights are currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies, the same team his brother left a couple of months ago in a trade that saw the two swap teams (along with Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton). Originally, however, he had been nabbed in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now the youngest Gasol has to make a decision: maybe Memphis is not the best place for him as it's the place where he saw his brother struggle for the last two seasons. On the other hand, maybe it could be the perfect spot to adjust his game for the NBA. Meanwhile, F.C. Barcelona is willing to welcome him back home with open arms.

Pedro Bringas

Published in Hoops Addict / Selected by USA Today

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