China View: Spanish basketball star Pau Gasol is looking forward to working with his former coach and leading his country's attempt to win a basketball gold medal in the Beijing Olympic Games, the Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS reported Friday.
Gasol, who played in the NBA play-off final with the LA Lakers, will be preparing for the Games with new Spanish national coach Aito Garcia Reneses.
Gasol knows the coach well from his time at FC Barcelona when Reneses was Barcelona coach and he was a junior and believes the man in charge of the Spanish team has some responsibility for his subsequent success.
"He helped me evolve as a player and also to move to the NBA. I am looking forward to being under his orders, to see the details and his habits. He is a coach who likes intensity in the work and we want to see how the team assimilates that and responds," said Gasol.
The Spanish basketball side will travel to China on the back of the two most successful years in its history.
Under the guidance of former coach Vicente "Pepu" Hernandez they were crowned world champions in 2006 and then took the silver medal in last year's European Championships. However, Gasol believes another team has to be favorite to take gold in Beijing.
"The USA," he said. "They have got a great side, but we are going to fight hard to finish as high as possible."
"We have to play them on August 16 and that will be very special," he said. Reneses may only be Spain coach for the Olympic Games, before a possible move to Unicaja Malaga, but Gasol insists the Spanish players are not interested in rumors and are only focused on one thing.
"We are with the national team to prepare for the Olympic Games, which is a very important championship. That is all we are here for."
"We have a very strong squad made up of quality players and the team has shown that as a unit it is more important than any single individual," he said.