x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Gasol's delight at his first title

The Los Angeles Lakers used last year's NBA Finals defeat to the Boston Celtics as the motivating factor.

Pau Gascol, the LA Lakers' Spanish forward, lifts the NBA Championship trophy after his team clinched the finals with a 99=86 win over the Orlando Magic.
Pau Gascol, the LA Lakers' Spanish forward, lifts the NBA Championship trophy after his team clinched the finals with a 99=86 win over the Orlando Magic.

The Los Angeles Lakers used last year's NBA Finals defeat to the Boston Celtics as the motivating factor to become a title-winning team, the Spanish forward Pau Gasol said. Boston not only beat the Lakers in six games, the series finale was a 131-92 thrashing. "Last year's experience, it made us tougher, it made us grow as a team, and we all were hurt by it," Gasol said after the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 to win the championship.

"We were very disappointed that we lost against Boston. They showed that they were more ready than we were at the time. But it really made us want it even more than we did last year, and it got us to this point." The Finals MVP Kobe Bryant may be grabbing a majority of the headlines, but Gasol's inside play was key to the title and the Spaniard scored 14 points and a team-leading 15 rebounds in the final game of the series.

Gasol was jubilant after winning his first NBA crown. "The journey is what makes it so special and so beautiful," he said. "I had to work really hard throughout my career and started off as a kid in Spain just loving to play basketball, not trying to really become a professional. "But I really started to be really good and I was very ambitious and competitive." Gasol said it was difficult playing for the lowly Memphis Grizzlies during the first chapter of his NBA career but then he received the call that changed his life.

"The adjustment, and six-and-a-half years in Memphis were tough as a professional, also personally, because I don't take losing very lightly. "But the day that I was traded I couldn't believe it. "It was such a beautiful day for me. And then also I think the Lakers were pretty happy with it, too." Gasol, who arrived in Los Angeles midway through last season, averaged 18.6 points and 9.2 rebounds against the Magic.

"We're just happy and excited," he said. "We're a great group, we're a great team, and this is amazing for us." * Reuters