After dealing with endless trade rumors during the shortened 2011-12 NBA season, two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol was able to step back from the Los Angeles Lakers this summer to play for Spain in the 2012 Olympics.
Along with the opportunity to win Gold and avenge the loss to Kobe Bryant’s Team USA squad back in 2008, Gasol also has a chance to make history in London this summer.
As the leading scorer in 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Gasol has a shot at matching Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt as the only other player to lead the way in the scoring department in three consecutive appearances according to Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk:
“Gasol was the leading scorer of the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2008 games in Beijing. Do it one more time and he ties Schmidt.”
Heading into the Olympic basketball quarterfinals, Spain will go head-to-head with Tony Parker’s French squad in the first elimination game for Gasol and company during the 2012 Olympics. If Spain advances, they’d face off against Russia or Lithuania. Kobe’s Team USA squad will face Australia in their first elimination match and will await the winner between Brazil and Argentina.
During the remaining rounds of the Olympics for Spain, Gasol will have to hold off Australia’s Patty Mills for the distinction of leading scorer with both players averaging 20.6 points per game. Not far behind Mills and Gasol are Luis Scola (20.2 ppg) and Manu Ginobili (20.0 ppg) of Argentina.
With all four players having a legitimate shot of becoming the leading scorer this time around, Gasol will have no room for error as he must continue to light up the scoreboards on a nightly basis. Spain will certainly continue to lean on Gasol to put points on the board during the quarterfinals and throughout the rest of the tournament if they can advance.
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Gasol can stay on top with Ginobili, Scola and Mills staying hot over the course of the last few games.
Team USA’s Kevin Durant has an outside chance of eclipsing Gasol in the scoring category averaging 18.6 points per game.