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ESP - Orenga maintains confidence in Claver

Victor Claver (ESP)
Victor Claver (ESP) - EuroBasket 2013

MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Some expected Victor Claver to lose his place in Spain's squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup after a season in the NBA that saw him play very little for the Portland Trail Blazers.

One of the top sides in the Western Conference, Portland had a lot of competition for places in the squad and Claver wasn't able to force his way into the rotation as he'd hoped after a solid EuroBasket 2013 with the national team.

Spain coach Juan Antonio Orenga didn't lose faith in Claver, though, and called his name out when announcing the squad earlier this month.

"Victor Claver this year has had a difficult year in Portland but one that has strengthened him mentally," Orenga said.

"It's been a year of barely playing after a very good EuroBasket, both in defense and attack, and (he) had little or no court time.

"He's remained strong both physically and in the head. He is versatile and can play three (small forward) or four (power forward).

"Last year (at the EuroBasket), he responded without playing many minutes (in Portland) and we know that he is healthy and eager to play well.

"I trust that he will do a repeat of last year, and he will have grown up as a player thanks to a lot of individual work done during the year."

Claver was an essential ingredient for a Spanish side that needed help in the frontcourt since Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Felipe Reyes all did not play.

One frontcourt star who was in Slovenia was Marc Gasol.

He is in the prime of his career and eager to build on EuroBasket 2013, where he made the All-Tournament Team.

The Memphis Grizzlies center will need to be at the top of his game if Spain are to realize their goal of making it to the podium.

"The national team always has the pressure to be at the top and for that to happen, we need to be ambitious but also humble," he said.

"This is the secret that has allowed us to play at a high level since 2006."

Gasol played for Spain's senior side for the first time at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, helping the team win the title in Japan.

At the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Spain will play in Granada's Group A against France, Serbia, Brazil, Iran and Egypt.