Gasol Expresses Admiration For Rubio's Play

Gasol Expresses Admiration For Rubio's Play

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio expressed a deep appreciation for Lakers forward and fellow Spain native Pau Gasol during Saturday’s team practice, saying Gasol is a mentor for young athletes from their country hoping to be make it in the NBA.

On Sunday prior to the Wolves' matchup with Los Angeles, Gasol returned his admiration to the talented rookie sensation making his mark in the league this season.

Gasol, a two-time NBA champion, said the 21-year-old Rubio is making a strong transition to the speed of the game and the rigorous schedule length that make up an NBA season. And as Rubio continues to shine and gain notoriety, Gasol said he’s excited to see Rubio succeeding.

“I’m glad he’s getting that status here. That’s always nice and very rewarding for any player and anybody,” Gasol said. “But he’s earning it. Once you get it, people start to appreciate what you do and recognize who you are and what you do and bring to the table, so I’m happy for him.”

Rubio began playing for Spain’s Under-16 team in 2005. He was Gasol's teammate on the Spanish Olympic team for the 2008 Beijing Games, and at 17 he became the youngest player ever to participate in a gold-medal game.

Since arriving in Minnesota, he’s been a sensation both on and off the court. Rubio’s uncanny court vision is raising eyebrows around the league—finding new creative ways each night to feed his teammates open looks and alley-oop dunks. But he’s showing he’s more than just a flashy passer. Rubio is averaging 11.4 points to go with his 8.8 assists per night, and he’s third in the league with 2.42 assists per contest.

Rubio said Gasol is a prime example for playing hard and being a leader on the floor. Gasol said continuing to work on his game is what will help make Rubio an elite player in the league. He said he’s already got the vision on the court and makes good decisions with the basketball.

“Even at a very young age, he’s very experienced, he’s been through different stages at a very high level,” Gasol said. “But more than anything he’s having fun. He’s just enjoying the moment, enjoying the opportunity and enjoying a young, athletic team that have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys he can throw it to.”

Tonight the two will share the floor for the first time as NBA players. The lone time Rubio faced Gasol in a Lakers uniform was in an exhibition game in 2010 while he played for Barcelona. Rubio’s squad topped the Lakers 92-88 that night despite Gasol’s 24 points, and since then Rubio has continued to develop into an all-around point guard who is currently vying for a spot in February’s All-Star Game in Orlando.

None of Rubio’s accolades are surprising to Gasol, who said he’s seen his potential for years. The next step is continuing to progress as a player and a leader.

“I know what he’s capable of doing,” Gasol said. “I know how good of a passer he is, I know how he sees the floor, how smart and intelligent he is. And he can make plays. He’s a competitor, he’s been playing professional basketball for a long time, and he’s playing very well.”

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