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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Spain’s National Basket Team

Prince of Asturias Award for Sports 2006

The Spanish basketball team that participated in the World Cup in Japan under the leadership of José Vicente Hernández was made up at the time of receiving the Award by point guards José Manuel Calderón, Carlos Cabezas and Sergio Rodríguez; shooting guards Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernández and Berni Rodríguez; small forwards Carlos Jiménez and Álex Mumbrú; and power forwards/centres Pau Gasol, Felipe Reyes, Marc Gasol and Jorge Garbajosa. The national team reached the winner's podium after having completed an undefeated run to reach the play-offs, where they overpowered great teams such as Serbia (2002 World Champion), Lithuania (2003 European Champion), Argentina (2004 Olympic Champion) and Greece, the current European Champion. At the end of the game, Pau Gasol, who missed the final due to an injury, was selected Most Valuable Player by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and along with team-mate Jorge Garbajosa named to the All-Tournament Team, the "ideal five-man squad".

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The 2006 team had among its ranks includes four Spanish NBA players: Pau Gasol and José Manuel Calderón, who will continue playing with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors; and Jorge Garbajosa and Sergio Rodriguez, who will be making their debut with the Toronto Raptors and the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2006-2007 season. A large part of the squad is formed by a generation of players known as the "golden juniors", ever since they won the 1999 Junior World Championship. For this reason, the squad's triumph in Japan is considered to be the result of a group that has made team spirit the key to its game.

Before achieving this world title, the best results attained by Spain in a World Championship was placing fourth in Cali, Colombia in 1982. The national team had not made it this far since earning a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Included amongst the past successes which have led Spanish basketball to the highest levels are the outstanding seven medals achieved at the European Championships: five gold medals and two bronzes. After the World Championship in Japan, the latest FIBA world ranking for national teams has Spain as third, placing behind the United States and Argentina.

The national basketball squad represents the Spanish Basketball Federation at competitions organised by FIBA or the International Olympic Committee, mainly the World Championship, the European Championship and the Olympic Games, as well as tournaments and friendly matches. The national basketball squad was formed in 1935 to take part in the first European Championships, held in Geneva and where Spain placed second.

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