Spanish center Marc Gasol intends to play at the Tokyo Olympics, even if he’s coming off a deep NBA playoffs run with his new team — the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
“Hopefully, I arrive very tired and late at camp, which means we’ve played until the Final,” Gasol said in Spanish last week after announcing he signed with the Lakers. “We’ll see, my intention is always to be there, at least until this summer.”
A potential NBA Finals Game 7 will be July 22, the night before the Opening Ceremony. Olympic men’s basketball games start July 25. Normally, there is more than a month between the end of the Finals and the Olympics, and most to all of the healthy international stars in the NBA participate.
Gasol, at 35, knows it may be his last chance to play at the Olympics for Spain, which was eliminated from gold-medal contention at the last four Games by the U.S. (including in two finals).
“As long as you can physically be there, there’s a willingness especially when you are getting older and you know the window is getting smaller each time, so you enjoy it even more,” Gasol said. “It gives each moment you spend with your teammates added meaning.”
Last year, Gasol and Ricky Rubio (a veteran himself at 30) led Spain to the FIBA World Cup title, boosting hopes of a first Olympic gold in Tokyo. That roster lacked stalwart Pau Gasol, Marc’s older brother who underwent left foot surgery.
It’s unknown if Pau, a 40-year-old who is unsigned, will continue playing, though he reportedly said in early October that the goal was to go one more year to get to the Tokyo Games.
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