Jose Calderon, one of many longtime Team Spain players returning for World Cup 2014

Jose Calderon: Team Spain has enough to contend for gold

Four-time medalist Jose Calderon wants more – and he believes that the current edition of Team Spain might have just enough at the 2014 FIBA World Cup to do so. After a ceremony in his home country in which Calderon was named a UNICEF Ambassador of Sport, Calderon exuded a confident front to media regarding his side’s chances in the world’s biggest basketball tournament.

Proclaimed the winner of two golds (at the 2006 world championship and 2011 Eurobasket) and two silvers (Olympic Games in 2008 and ‘12) with Team Spain: “We have enough to compete for the gold medal and to win it, especially being the tournament hosts. It would be a prize for the fans, for everybody who follows us and an important [finish] for this generation that has led for so many years.”

“…we must still be aware that the World Cup is very difficult because you have to win the final four games.”
Indeed, Calderon is just one of a core of a Team Spain squad that has established enviable continuity with a near-dominant, decade-long core of NBA and Euroleague players: This version of the team includes the headlining Gasol Brothers (Pau, who first suited up for Espana in 2001; and Marc, who joined in 2006); FC Barcelona stalwart Juan Carlos Navarro (since 2000); and the Real Madrid trio Felipe Reyes (2001), Rudy Fernandez (2004) and 2014 EL MVP Sergio Rodriguez (2005). This seven only may boast a cumulative 49 medals amassed in Olympic, World and European play to go with Pau’s two NBA titles and Navarro’s pair of EL championship runs.

Yet even with this high-powered lot which Calderon described as “a group of friends,” he maintains a sense of the specific challenge of the tournament format: There nevertheless “remains much room for improvement” for a side that has gone 7-0 in friendlies in 2014, “and we must still be aware that the World Cup is very difficult because you have to win the final four games.”

Beyond the star power, though, Calderon sees individuality as far from key: “The good thing is that we do not have a single leader.” The long-time togetherness has resulted in a team with “no specific leader, as can happen on other teams, and everyone pitches in.”

For this World Cup, then, Spain appears primed. And if this tournament does come down to a meeting with Team USA … well, the last time the teams met in the 2012 Olympics final, the Spaniards scared the Americans. In 2014, it could get positively terrifying for the world’s #1 ranked side.

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Tags: FIBA World Cup Jose Calderon New York Knicks Spain

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