Spain captain Jose Calderon believes that the London Olympics could help turn Great Britain into the next great basketball power.
The Toronto Raptors guard claims that the golden generation of Spanish players were inspired by the events of Barcelona in 1992, when the USA Dream Team reigned supreme and provided the impetus for truly globalising the sport.
Calderon, along with LA Lakers forward Pau Gasol and Barcelona guard Juan Carlos Navarro, have been at the heart of a group that has captured one world championship and two European titles in the last decade, as well as Olympic silver four years ago.
Plus, of course, the planet’s second best league.
And having a Games on home soil was, he insists, the real catalyst.
“It was a big thing for us because it really boosted sport in Spain,” Calderon said.
“We were lucky have those Olympics. In basketball, when everyone was talking about it with the Dream Team. But it changed everything for every sport in Spain. We began to have success in almost every sport from then.
“I don’t know why Britain never had a strong basketball team when they do well in other sports. Maybe, playing at home, they can change everything. You hope that it will draw people into basketball, seeing the USA, Britain, us and everyone else.”
Britain’s men will meet Spain in the group stages of the Olympics on August 2, the third consecutive finals in which Chris Finch’s men have taken on the Iberian power. So far, the Spanish have remained unbeatable. Calderon would like that monopoly on victory to remain.
But he said: “I hope you guys do well. We’ve played Great Britain twice now in the last few years and they’ve given us tough games.”
Their sights, however, are set a little higher. Continuity will again be key for the reigning EuroBasket champions whose evergreen veterans remain determined to prove themselves.
The chemistry is set in place.
“We have a core group that keeps on going. We’ve all known each other for a long time to know what’s going on. And when you’re winning, you have confidence. That’s been a big factor.”
Read an exclusive interview with Jose Calderon in MVP’s special Olympic issue. On sale now.
Comments are closed on this post.