The Lakers will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon and will be looking to finally earn their second victory on the road this season. While L.A.’s struggles may be the main story heading into the contest, one of the other main stories to follow will be Pau Gasol and Ricky Rubio.
The two players, who played together in their home country of Spain before joining the NBA, will square off against one another for the first time in the NBA. Rubio was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft, but was unable to join the roster until this season.
Gasol’s history in the league is obviously more extensive. After being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2001 NBA Draft, he was traded to the Lakers on Feb. 1, 2008. Since joining Los Angeles Gasol has helped lead the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances and two NBA championships.
With both Gasol and Rubio hailing from Spain, there’s no doubt that the matchup between the two this afternoon is certainly an intriguing one. Rubio is largely considered the best guard prospect to ever come out of Spain, while Gasol has achieved more success in the NBA than any other Spanish player to this point.
To make things more interesting for these two players, they were also teammates at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Rubio and Gasol helped lead the Spanish team to the Gold Medal game against the United States. Coincidentally, the U.S. team was led by Pau’s teammate on the Lakers, Kobe Bryant.
The game ended up being a close one as the United States defeated Spain 118-107 to win the gold medal. Afterwards Gasol returned to the NBA while Rubio continued to play in Spain until leaving to join the Timberwolves this season.
So with the history between these two players obviously apparent, what can we expect to see from them tonight? It’s obviously unlikely we see the two play one another head to head since they both operate different positions on the floor, but the interactions between the two players might be interesting.
Rubio may have the edge in their first matchup purely because of the defensive looks he will see compared to Gasol. Rubio will find himself up against 37-year-old Derek Fisher and second round pick Andrew Goudelock, while Gasol has to wrestle with the All-Star caliber talent of Kevin Love. Still, the history between the two players should make for an exciting storyline when the teams meet at the Target Center on Sunday night.