As one international basketball fan described of what Willy Hernangomez accomplished during the 2022 EuroBasket competition, “he (won) MVP and a (championship) ring in a tournament that has four super-max NBA players (Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo).”
Hernangomez, a quality role player over his six NBA seasons – including the past two campaigns with the New Orleans Pelicans – earned one of the top honors of his career Sunday, when Spain defeated France 88-76 in the EuroBasket gold medal game. In Berlin, Germany, the 28-year-old punctuated his Most Valuable Player case by scoring 14 points, as Spain won the EuroBasket title for the fourth time in its last six attempts.
“Willy Hernangomez is underrated,” tweeted writer Christos Tsaltas, an international media member who also covers the Pelicans during the NBA season. “He was the man who carried Spain in group stage and at crucial moments in knockout stage. It seems strange, but he’s a superstar in Europe. And he deserves credits not only because he was named EuroBasket 2022 MVP. Pelicans have a gem.”
Hernangomez, who played in the NBA for New York and Charlotte prior to joining the Pelicans, averaged 17.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in EuroBasket competition. His brother, Juancho, was also a major contributor for Spain. Juancho is a six-year NBA veteran and currently plays for the Toronto Raptors.
“My brother and I come from a humble family in the outskirts of Madrid, Las Rozas,” Willy said in Sunday’s postgame press conference. “We always thought we would have to fight and work hard for everything. We never thought we would get to play in the (Spanish pro league); we never thought we would get to play so many years in the NBA.
"So we simply continued to work and grab our chances and to be playing for the national team together and winning EuroBasket is more than a dream. I am extremely proud of all my teammates, of my coaching staff and the whole of the Spanish federation from the top to the bottom. We deserve this goal medal.”