If you're good enough, you're old enough.
That's the message Spain coach Pepu Hernandez gave this week when talking about the possibility of DKV Joventut sensation Ricky Rubio playing at the Beijing Olympics.
The 1.9m Rubio, who only turned 17 on October 21, has led DKV to 10 wins in their 11
games in the ACB - the toughest league in Europe.
|The presence of players like Jose Calderon means Rubio's ticket to Beijing is far from a sure thing.|
He is averaging 14.4 points in 24 minutes per contest.
"I really like the fact that there is a debate regarding which players will be included in the team," said Hernandez, who led Spain to gold at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and silver at this year's EuroBasket in Madrid.
"I want to have problems when selecting the team as I don't want a closed team, hence young players and new players can always be included."
There are three big reasons why Rubio may not make the trip to Beijing, though, and their names are Jose Calderon, Carlos Cabezas and Sergio Rodriguez.
Calderon is on the verge of superstardom with the Toronto Raptors while Cabezas is a veteran playmaker with leading European side Unicaja Malaga and Rodriguez a reserve with the Portland Trail Blazers.
"Ricky is mature and that gives everyone enthusiasm," Hernandez said.
"The national team is not a question of age and the group needs new players.
"It's true that Ricky could be at the Olympics but we cannot forget that we have great players already in his position."
The disappointment of losing in the final seconds of the gold medal game to Russia in October has begun to fade with Hernandez and his players speaking proudly of the silver medal.
And they are, Hernandez says, very optimistic ahead of China despite the presence of defending champions Argentina and other contenders like Team USA and Lithuania.
"Our expectations at the Olympic Games are very high and the connection between the people and the team is great," he added in Marca.
"We are one of the teams with the most competitiveness in the world, hence it's not strange to think of winning."