No surprises on FIBA’s player of the year list

Ricky RubioAlthough the women’s title was harder to predict – there was no shock as to who claimed the Young Player and Player of the Year awards.

Ricky Rubio of ACB giants, FC Barcelona and Spain scooped the Young Player of the Year crown for the third straight year. Continuing his reign as undoubtedly the most talented and consistent player on the court, as well as the most recognisable young player in world basketball. Rubio easily dispatched competition, brought by Serbia’s, Milan Macvan and Jan Vesely of The Czech Republic –  who finished second and third respectively.

The young guard was picked at number five in the NBA Draft, selected to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but instead elected to continue his playing career in his home country. Rubio penned a six year deal moving him from Joventut Badalona to nearest rivals, Barcelona.

Rubio announced himself on the global stage at the 2006 U16 European Championship, where he recorded an incredible triple-double of 51 points, 24 rebounds and 12 assists adding seven steals and a half-court buzzer-beating three-pointer in Spain’s overtime win over Russia.

Since then Rubio has featured heavily in Spain’s plans and won a gold medal in Poland last September at EuroBasket – adding to the silver medal he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“It’s difficult to come up with new ways of praising Ricky Rubio,” said FIBA Europe President George Vassilakopoulos.

“He has the talent and the work ethic to be not just good, but great and I look forward to following his career.”

The men’s category, was, like the young player award, an obvious choice. As Los Angeles Lakers and Spain center, Pau Gasol took the honour of getting FIBA’s Player of the Year. Beating Germany’s Dirk Nowitszki and Serbia’s Milos Teodosic to second and third respectively.

Gasol led the Lakers to an NBA crown, by beating the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals last year. Averaging 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds along the way. The 7’0 Gasol also grabbed MVP honours at EuroBasket in Poland. Averaging 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, as Spain finally took home the gold medal..

This is Pau Gasol’s second straight Player of the Year success, and it strengthens his status as one of European Basketball’s best players.

“Pau Gasol’s performance this September in Poland just proves that when his career is over he will stand among the greats of the European game,” commented Mr. Vassilakopoulos.

“Being on the court with him after the championship game it was clear what a special moment it was.”

“Year after year Pau distinguishes himself not only on the court but also off of it,” added Secretary General Nar Zanolin.

“He is both a great player, and a wonderful ambassador for the game.”

Spain were denied a hat-trick of awards as France’s Sandrine Gruda won the Women’s Player of the Year award, in what turned out to be the closest as far as the voting went.

Gruda edged out former Women’s Player of the Year, Anete Jekabsone-Zogota of Latvia and team mate Maria Stepanova who is a three time winner of the Women’s Player of Year.

The French power forward/center led France to gold medal success at EuroBasket Women 2009 in Latvia – averaging 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. The 2006 Young Women’s Player of the Year is also gunning for her third straight Euroleague Women’s Final Four appearance.

“I have been following Sandrine’s career for some time now and it is great to watch her getting stronger and stronger every year. She can be one of the dominant players of her time.” Stated Mr.Vassilakopoulos.

“Sandrine developed from an outstanding player at youth level into a world class athlete and a true leader at senior level.” added Nar Zanolin.

“This, once again shows how well young talent prospers in our competitions”

John Hobbs for

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