Ahead of their flight to Rio de Janeiro, veteran Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro was quick to stress the importance of performing every night on the biggest stage of international basketball as they aim to win a third straight Olympic medal.
Since the USA reclaimed their dominance at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and won gold again four years later in London, Spain have been the closest challengers on both occasions, pushing the star-studded Americans all the way before falling in the final minutes.
And while Navarro, who will appear in his fifth, and predicted to be last Olympics wants to win gold in Brazil, he admits that just winning a medal of any distinction is an achievement in itself. But, chatting about podium results can also come in good time.
“They say that this team’s goal is to win a medal, and winning medals for three consecutive times in Olympic Games, is something few people can accomplish,” said Navarro before boarding the plane to Brazil with his team-mates. “We have a tough group in front of us and we must a good job in the upcoming matches before thinking of any medals.”
Spain’s first encounter at the Carioca Arena will be against Croatia on August 7, a team featuring Philadelphia 76ers recruit Dario Saric and Brooklyn Nets veteran Bojan Bogdanovic amongst others. But the extra time spent in Brazil once they land from a near 11 hour flight to get acclimatised to their surroundings, not to mention the five hour time difference will work to Spain’s favour, says the EuroLeague’s all-time leading scorer.
“We still have six, seven days ahead of us and lots of work to be done,” he says. “The road that leads to the medals and the possibility of claiming the gold is quite long and difficult. Our first game (against Croatia) will be very important, as always, in order to manage our pressure and see the level we truly are.”