Pau Gasol has brought a battered and tired crew back to the big one. Now, Emmet Ryan writes, he must raise them one final time
The field of Agincourt lies just 90km or so from here. Next month on 25 October, St Crispin’s day, the 600th anniversary of one of the greatest against the odds victories will be marked. That day Henry V’s tired and weary forces faced down a fresh French force that had around six time as many troops. The longbow won the day for the English and the Bard brought the morning into legend. Imagine Sergio Scariolo, he without so many of Spain’s big names, as Westmoreland about to face France on Thursday night.
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
For Pau, that game was personal. The 40 and 11 only begins to tell the story. Here he was, throughout the knockout rounds, leading by example. No Marc, no Ricky, no Calderon. It was on him and he wanted the glory. He needed to set the example, to run into the meat grinder over and over to prove a point to the rest of the Spanish roster. Victory in this hostile environment wasn’t just possible, it was what he demanded.
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
The job was done. Spain got to the Olympics, not with their answer to the longbow. They haven’t exactly rocked it from deep in this competition. No it was with their king, the leader setting the example. His body is a mess, the fatigue and battering is obvious. The Bulls won’t know how much rest he needs until they see him but the short answer is a lot. Now, as he waits what is likely to be his last appearance in EuroBasket, Pau can get ready for battle once more. He needs, like he has been in every game, to be the one that sets the example. The man who lifts a nation.
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
Lithuania wasn’t the opponent he expected. No, like the rest of the world Gasol was expecting a re-match with Serbia. They had been the class of the tournament. Lithuania’s victory may have come in a less than stellar game but there was plenty in their performance for the Spanish to fear. The speed, how the Lithuanians ran at Serbia all night. The continued strength of Jonas Valanciunas, the wise and nimble Jonas Maciulis. For Pau personally there is one other, Robert Javtokas, who will likely be seeing Gasol frequently in this final. He’s the defender, the one who will pick up the fouls so JV doesn’t. It’s not the arsenal of Serbia or France but it’s an opponent to be wary of. It’s the type of foe his comrades underestimate at their peril. He must take the stump, not with words (save for Vamos) but action. This is not the Spain of old, it likely isn’t even the Spain we will see in Rio, but it’s the on Pau leads onto this battle field.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.