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Raptors center Marc Gasol says sacrificing summer to play for Spain is ‘completely worth it’

Marc Gasol, Raptors

Marc Gasol won his first NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors this past season. Consequently, the 34-year old center had the longest campaign of his 11-year NBA career.

While Gasol could have used the summer to rest his aging body after grinding it out all the way through mid-June, the three-time All-Star still opted to play for Spain in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Despite a grueling year of basketball, Gasol believes that sacrificing his summer for the national team is worth it, per John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

“I’m very fortunate,” Gasol said about the opportunity to win two championships in the span of three months. “I know that committing to the national team this summer would not be easy physically, because we were so lucky to stretch our season and [come] away with a championship. But it’s completely worth it, and not because we’re playing in the final game.”

“It’s because of the responsibility of passing along that commitment, that loyalty to the team, those values that we were taught through so many years with older players. Now it’s our turn to pass on that legacy to the next generation. That’s not talent. That’s just commitment, because when you come to the national team for 8, 10 weeks during the summer, it’s not very practical, because you don’t get to work on your game, you don’t get to recover, you don’t get to work on your body like you would if you had close to 20 weeks off. You’re committing to a lot of time and to your teammates. And it’s completely worth it.”

It would have been smart for Gasol to keep his body fresh heading into another grueling 82-game campaign next season. However, it would take a lot to sway the NBA champion from his commitment to his home country.

As Gasol emphasized, he bears the responsibility of leading by example through his commitment to the national team. Although he admitted it’s not practical for an NBA player to commit eight to ten weeks in preparation for the tournament, he still believes it’s all worth it.

Marc Gasol will now hope to lead Spain to win the Gold medal against Argentina in the FIBA World Cup final.