“Right now, it’s easier,” he noted, mentioning the higher numbers overall of Spanish players in the league. “You just have to do all you can to get better every day. Work as hard as you can. That’s all you can do.” There’s a camaraderie in the league among the players who can speak Spanish. “When you know someone is from any culture that speaks Spanish, you can talk to them,” Calderon said. “Even if you don’t know them, there’s always going to be some kind of connection. Maybe they’ve played in Europe somewhere or in Spain or something like that, or you know them from the international game.”
Barcelona’s Petteri Koponen trained for the first time following his car accident last month. The Finland international was a passenger in a taxi when it collided with an oncoming car. But Koponen has made a speedy recovery and is back training with the team does the first time. However, there is still no timetable for his return.
But after six years in Spain, and six years away from the NBA, the 30-year-old decided this summer it was time to come back. “This time, with my age, I felt I needed to get another opportunity here in the NBA,” said Rodriguez, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the 76ers on July 13.
Is that what will stick with you or more the pride of representing the country and overcoming odds to make it there in the first place? A.B.: A mix of both. Look, we’ve never medaled in an Olympics, even a bronze. We were so close. The Serbia game was the one I was really disappointed in. We just got absolutely annihilated. The Spain game, FIBA had its say in that one. I’m still a firm believer in that. You look at the game tape and see their last four points are free throws, and they weren’t fouls. That was probably the most disappointing thing, but you can’t cry over spilled milk. We’ve got to move on from it, but [it was] just disappointing that we were so close to getting a medal and lost the bronze-medal game by one point.
Over the past few weeks, there is a lot of speculation going on about Sergio Llull’s possible jump to the NBA, after excessive interest from the Houston Rockets. The Real Madrid guard spoke to Mundo Deportivo and cleared things out. “Rumors like these will always be there, especially when you beat Oklahoma the way we did. It will probably take a few weeks until the speculations stop”, the player answers. “I am very calm as I’ve said many times. I am very happy here and I’m not thinking of anything else. I just think of the game against Olympiacos on Wednesday, winning titles and celebrating with the fans.”
Fred Katz: Thought this quote from Russell Westbrook about how offenses in Europe “are 10 times better than NBA offense” was interesting: On second game defense, what he saw different “Just our awareness on what plays. I think one thing people don’t realize is guarding teams in Europe, their offenses are 10 times better than NBA offense just because they move around a lot. A lot of movement and not as much talent so they have to do different things to be able to score the basketball. I think it was a good experience for us to be able to go to Europe and be able to guard those offenses and some of the best teams. That’s always good for us.”