Juancho Hernangomez: ‘EuroBasket 2022 a tournament we’ll remember for the rest of our lives’

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TORONTO (Canada) – With the dust long since settled on Spain’s most unlikely title run in their era of greatness, one aspect to the team’s success at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 is crystal clear for its title game MVP Juancho Hernangomez.

The experience of having played alongside Spain’s legends in previous years helped Hernangomez and everyone else navigate one of the toughest EuroBaskets ever staged.

“THANKS TO ALL THE VETERAN PLAYERS HAD TAUGHT US , WE TOOK IT ONE GAME AT A TIME, WITHOUT PRESSURE …”


“Thanks to all the veteran players had taught us , we took it one game at a time, without pressure, enjoying every moment, a united team, together throughout the tournament,” he said. “There were no egos, all the players adapted to what the coach asked and that was the key.”

The “veterans” that Hernangomez had played with before included Pau and Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio at EuroBasket 2017.

At the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Hernangomez counted Rubio, Marc Gasol, Sergio Llull and Victor Claver as teammates. They were players with multiple titles.

This year, Rudy Fernandez was the undisputed leader, and connection to Spain’s glorious past that dates back to the 2006 World Cup win in Japan. All of his savvy and knowledge he has accumulated over the years came in handy for a Spanish team that had several EuroBasket debutants.

There were also the veteran coaches, especially head coach Sergio Scariolo, that prepared Spain to near perfection and helped navigate the team through a treacherous schedule, especially in the knockout round when opponents were Lithuania, Finland, Germany and France.

Hernangomez says he always believed in the team’s chances, too. That kind of confidence that allowed him to walk onto the floor in the Final of EuroBasket 2022 against France and pour in a game-high 27 points.

“Whenever I play a basketball team, I always think that we can win,” he said.

It also helped that few gave Spain a chance to win the title before and during the EuroBasket.

“We had no pressure heading into the tournament,” he said. “We had a new team, young players, very eager and with a lot of hunger.”

If ever there was supposed to be a time that this national team did not reach the top of the podium, this was it.

Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic were back with Slovenia, the team they led to EuroBasket 2017 glory, and two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic was with Serbia. He was an awesome sight, as was Giannis Antetokounmpo with Greece. Antetokounmpo had won the NBA MVP award in each of the two seasons before Jokic.

Germany not only had the fans behind them, but they had talent in abundance and terrific coaching. France, Lithuania, Italy and Turkey had great players that made each title contenders.

“The level is top,” Hernangomez said. “You had the last four MVPs of the NBA, great national teams, NBA players, All Stars. But in this competition, we saw that in one game, the team that wins is the most complete team.

“All the good teams and players have a lot of pressure and winning alone is difficult to win in FIBA. It’s a different type of basketball.

“It’s a tournament we’ll remember for the rest of our lives with players that have dominated and will dominate basketball the next 10 to 15 years.”

For Hernangomez, what made EuroBasket 2022 very special was the presence of his brother, Willy, and his dominant showing. Willy was named MVP of the tournament.

“It was very emotional,” Hernangomez said. “We both know how hard we’ve worked, how much we wanted this dream, how long we’ve fought for this dream, what we’ve gone through, the difficult times, when you have injuries, when you train harder than everyone and you don’t get to play.

“In the end, we are best of friends, we speak every day. We knew this was a very important tournament. To win and for him to be MVP of the tournament with the great players there were was a dream and more so the way we did it, together.”

Spain will try to have the same approach at next year’s World Cup, which will be played in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.

The country has leapfrogged USA into the No. 1 spot in the FIBA World Ranking and the Naismith Trophy will be theirs until another team takes it away.

“We are going to go little by little,” Hernangomez said. “We will prepare next year in the best possible way, with the same enthusiasm and willingness.

“We will see who can come, how we get there. We will fight and prepare the best we can. If we lose at the start, we lose, if we get to the final, we get to the final.

“We have to work at it ahead of time, prepare each game and have the luck of the champions. We have to work hard.”

FIBA