Jeff Taylor's Eurovision

Orenga calls on youth; a call to battle from Lemanis

VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - In life, don't stress out over things that you have no control over.

But in life, if you can make a change when change is needed, be bold enough to do it.

Spain boss Juan Antonio Orenga did just that this week.

Sensing that Spain's squad needed some fresh blood, Orenga named 20-year-old Alex Abrines in the national team that will play at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Abrines had some ups and downs with Barcelona this season and for some observers did not seem to merit a place in the national team but he's young, talented and has the potential to be great.

"We need to open the door to future talent and to upcoming talent," Orenga said.

We suspected back in 2011 Abrines had a big future, when he was the MVP of the U18 European Championship.

During EuroBasket 2011, Abrines also played at the U18 All-Star Game and took part in a dunking contest that got the crowd in Kaunas, Lithuania, excited.

Daniel Diaz (Real Madrid) and Guillermo Hernangomez (Cajasol Sevilla) were also in Spain's U18 title-wining team in 2011.

Each of them, along with Pau Ribas (Valencia Basket), have been invited to train with Spain's squad before the World Cup.

That should be viewed as an valuable opportunity.

In 2006, Fran Vazquez had to withdraw from the squad because of a back injury so then coach Pepu Hernandez called one of the three invitees, Marc Gasol, into the team and his career has been on the up ever since.

Having watched both Diaz and Hernangomez this season, it's safe to assume that the latter is a lock for the Spain squad in the coming years. He's a beast.

Hernangomez benefitted from the excellent coaching of Aito Garcia Reneses at Cajasol and is sure to make some headlines soon.

As for Abrines' impact on this year's team, Orenga said: "He can help us in many ways.

"Alex has an incredible capacity for penetrations and finishing.

"He also can give us a defensive intensity that will allow us to rest our number three (small forward)."

Abrines was taken early in the second round of last year's NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He will now play alongside Spain's Thunder star, Serge Ibaka, at the World Cup.

Orenga impressed last summer with his ability to motivate players.

It has to be a real confidence booster for Abrines to know how the national team boss feels about him.

Spain will play in World Cup Group A, in Granada, against France, Serbia, Brazil, Iran and Egypt.

Someone else that we're going to see in Spain this summer who seems a perfect fit for his national team is Australia boss Andre Lemanis.

He has said the right things in the wake of Pat Mills' rotator cuff injury, something that has just knocked the high-scoring guard out of the Boomers’ World Cup squad.

"This is a reality in sport and every team/player has their challenges to overcome," Lemanis said.

"It is better to know this now than have a player go down two games into the World Cup."

Lemanis gave an inspirational comment on facing challenges head-on.

"To succeed at anything," he said, "you need to have resilience, belief and an ability to overcome adversity.

"The spirit and mateship of the Boomers environment will continue to serve us well."

Lemanis is going to bring his Australia squad to Europe for a series of friendly games before they travel to Gran Canaria and play in Group D against Lithuania, Slovenia, Angola, Mexico and Korea.

If the Boomers players follow their coach's advice, they’re going to be tough to play.

Jeff Taylor


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

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Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor, a North Carolina native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, has been a journalist since 1990. He started covering international basketball after moving to Europe in 1996. Jeff provides insight and opinion every week about players and teams on the old continent that are causing a buzz.