|12 uninterrupted summers of showing up for national duty for sweet moments like this: Juan Carlos Navarro, captain of the Spanish team, lifts the EuroBasket 2009 trophy|
No player has shown greater commitment to Spain over the last 12 years than captain Juan Carlos Navarro.
The 31-year-old has devoted all of his summers since 1999 to La Roja and is among the top 10 players with most appearances for Spain.
Navarro was a key member of the team that won gold at the FIBA World Championship in 2006, silver at the Olympics in Beijing and gold at EuroBasket 2009 in Poland two years ago.
"It's beautiful to look at the past and see what I've achieved," he said. "But I do not want to stop there.
"The day I focus too much on the past and not want to move foward, that will be a problem."
Navarro is competing in his sixth EuroBasket in Lithuania and looking as sharp as ever.
The Barcelona shooting guard poured in 17 of his game-high 26 points in the third quarter of Wednesday's 86-64 quarter-final triumph over Slovenia.
"I love to help the team," said Navarro, nicknamed "La Bomba" for his big-time long-range shots.
"There are days when your shots go in and others, where you struggle.
"But the important thing is to help the team."
The Barcelona shooting guard, who was voted MVP of the ACB Finals last season, greatly contributed to Spain reaching the last four of the tournament.
He scored 15 first-quarter points in a 91-79 win over Lithuania earlier in the tournament.
Against Serbia, he had 14 points, dished out five assists and came up with three steals in an 84-59 win.
That game had an added significance for Spain.
Only a year had passed since the national team, without Pau Gasol, had been ousted by Serbia in the quarter-finals of the World Championship.
Milos Teodosic's memorable long three pointer with 3.1 seconds left handed the Serbians a 92-89 win.
Navarro, leader of that team, had 27 points in that game.
"We expected much more last year than a sixth-place finish," he said.
"But we had an up-and-down tournament.
"You can't always finish at the top, even though you try.
"Right now we are all hungry and determined, we fight for this jersey and we give our all.
"We are here because we want to win and each year the aims are different. I am proud to be here with these players."
Navarro and Spain will run onto the court on Friday against F.Y.R of Macedonia looking for their seventh win in Lithuania.
Also important is that reaching the gold medal game would guarantee Spain not only the chance to defend its crown but to secure a place at next year's Olympic Games.
"We are taking it one step at a time," said Navarro. "We are delighted to be in the Semi-Finals.
"Now our next aim is to reach the Final, qualify for the Olympics.
"And if we make it to the Final, we want to win it."