|24 March 2011|
Spain national team coach Sergio Scariolo is keeping a close watch on a group of newcomers that have a chance of making this summer's EuroBasket squad.
Oklahoma City power forward Serge Ibaka, who was born in Zaire (today Democratic Republic of the Congo) 21 years ago but learned his basketball in Spain and played at Manresa, is among those Scariolo is monitoring.
"Ibaka is currently doing the paperwork to get his Spanish nationality and it seems as though there is a possibility that he will have it before the EuroBasket," Scariolo said.
"This is why he is among the group of 18 to 20 players that we are following throughout the season to form the definite group.
"Every year, there are new players that come in and when there is compromise, enthusiasm and work, the adaptation is good."
Caja Laboral's Alaska native Brad Oleson and Real Madrid's Montenegro-born Nikola Mirotic are others.
|Nikola Mirotic is having a breakout season with Real Madrid|
"There are players that have not been born in Spain like Brad Oleson, Nikola Mirotic and Serge Ibaka that have shown the willingness to play for the national team and we have to follow their performance and progress just like any other player," Scariolo said.
"This is a season in which many players are consolidating themselves but surely there will be newcomers.
"Of course we will have to wait until the end of the season to see the physical condition in which the players arrive."
Scariolo made his comments after watching Real Madrid beat Power Electronics Valencia in the opening game of their Turkish Airlines Euroleague quarter-final showdown.
Sergio Llull and Felipe Reyes, already Spain national team players, are on the books of Madrid along with last summer's big signing Carlos Suarez from Estudiantes.
"All the players go through ups and downs throughout the campaign but Sergio Llull is progressing," Scariolo said.
"Carlos Suarez is not scoring 15 points or getting eight rebounds in every game, but he has adapted very well to a very demanding team.
"I like Felipe Reyes. He wasn't very accurate in shooting, but he shot when he had to, just as (Power Electronics Valencia's) Rafa Martinez who is showing his determination for the team."
Mirotic is clearly going to be a special player.
He had a go-ahead jumper for Madrid in the last minute and also hit a three-pointer with 19 seconds to go to make it 69-65 and suck the life out of Valencia.
"He showed great personality and talent at the end of the game," Scariolo said.
"He's going to be a great basketball player long before we expected him to be."