|04 May 2011|
Every week, fibaeurope.com collaborator Mark Woods talks to players with a single travel destination in mind this summer, Lithuania.
Next in the series is Carlos Suarez of Spain.
Mark Woods writes on basketball for a number of British newspapers as well as broadcasting for the BBC and Sky Sports. He is also assistant editor of mvp247.com and can be found on Twitter @markbritball.
As Gordon Gekko declared in the original ‘Wall Street' movie, greed is good.
Carlos Suárez feels the insatiable hunger within. One European title this year would satisfy his appetite for success. But there is ample room for two.
The first, he hopes, will arrive this weekend in Barcelona when Real Madrid challenges for its first Euroleague title in 16 years.
Come September, the 2.03m forward would dearly love the opportunity for a double when Spain bids to defend the EuroBasket crown it claimed in Poland two years ago.
Suárez, who will turn 25 this month, feels ready to play his part.
Cut at the last minute from the Spanish squad which travelled to last year's FIBA World Championship in Turkey, his turn may finally have come.
Some renovation is expected in the wake of that disappointing campaign.
The golden generation is no longer secure as the country's youth movement knocks on the door.
However with the Olympic Games just 14 months away, no-one expects them to fade quietly away.
"I don't think the older guys are done yet," Suárez declares.
"We have some new talent coming through and we can make an impact. But it's soon to say goodbye to Pau (Gasol). I don't think much will change."
Yet Suárez has done much to make his own case, averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds in the Spanish ACB league - plus 6 points and 4 rebounds in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague - in his first season since crossing the Spanish capital from Estudiantes to Real.
|Suarez took the big decision to leave Estudiantes for local rivals Real Madrid in the summer|
"I think I've had a good season at Real Madrid and I hope that is going to help me when it comes to how the coach sees his squad," he acknowledges.
"My game has opened up more. I've shown more of what I can do. I've played much more inside. The role I've been given in the team is one I'm pretty comfortable with."
Spain's coach, Sergio Scariolo, has taken notice. "Carlos Suárez is not scoring 15 points or getting eight rebounds in every game but he has adapted very well to a very demanding team," he said.
"It's more that it's made me a different type of player," Suárez responds.
"I've had to be more active. I'm playing closer to the basket but I've learnt more to avoid picking up fouls."
He is not the only new face holding up his hand and asking for the opportunity.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, born in Republic of the Congo but eligible for Spanish nationality, may earn his passport before Eurobasket and stake a claim.
Likewise, Nikola Mirotic, newly signed to a long-term contract extension in Madrid, is among Europe's brightest talents.
Montenegrin-born but raised in Spain, he might be fast tracked into the international line-up following a brilliant season.
"He can do what ever he wants," Suárez states.
"It's too soon to start placing too many hopes on his shoulders but there's no doubt, he has so much talent."
Young and old, Spain's team will be tested from the very start in Lithuania.
The first round group in Panevezys includes world championship finalists Turkey, fast-improving Great Britain plus the ever-dangerous hosts.
In 2009, the eventual winners were almost caught out in the initial stage, losing to Serbia in their opening game before being pushed to the brink of elimination by the British.
Once more, there will be no easy ride into the second round, Suárez acknowledges.
"It's a very very difficult group. Pretty complicated. The teams are going to make it difficult for us."
After making five appearances in friendly internationals last summer, he would so love to be involved in Spain's quest for a European repeat rather than watching from the outside again.
Training camp, and the chance to impress, cannot come quickly enough.
"I badly want to be in that final 14," Suárez proclaims.
"Last summer, I came close. But I take the attitude that I learnt from that experience and I know better now what I need to do."