It’s normal for brothers to have a lot in common, but with the Gasols, it’s getting ridiculous. Both are seven-footers. Both are NBA All-Stars. Both often sport unruly (and sometimes downright dirty-looking) beards. Both play for Spain in the Olympics. And both would love to exact revenge for their loss to Team USA in the championship game in Beijing in 2008. Not since Eli and Peyton Manning burst on the scene have two brothers excelled at such a high level in the same major sport—except in the Gasols’ case, they’re working together to crown Spain the supreme ruler of basketball.
The reason that some experts (though not many) believe that they have the best chance to beat Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and the other American NBA superstars is the much-improved game of the younger Gasol, Marc, since 2008.
In that memorable Final in ’08, Marc logged heavy minutes, but those minutes came from the bench: he didn’t start the game in what would ultimately be a 118-107 victory for Team USA.
This time, Marc’s impact is expected to be much bigger. But the younger Gasol’s emergence as a serious basketball talent actually began in 2006 when he was added to the Spanish national team before the World Championships. At the time, he was known for two things: being Pau’s younger brother, and being a bit, well, doughy.
After getting a taste of what it would take to succeed at the highest level of the sport, Marc reportedly revamped his lifestyle, embraced training and fitness and turned himself into the formidable big man in the NBA that he is today.
Big brother Pau has been playing at that level for years, most notably as Kobe Bryant‘s sidekick for the Los Angeles Lakers on the way to several NBA championships and NBA All-Star teams. If there is any doubt how much an Olympic title would mean to the elder Gasol, the normally soft spoken power forward said this to a Reuters reporter late last week: “I have been preparing myself and working to get better this summer. First for the Olympics and to perform at a high level to be able to achieve our goal… I’m a beast. Yeah, I feel pretty good. I feel strong.”
To find out if the strength of both Gasols is enough to dethrone Team USA, follow the Olympic basketball coverage the next two weeks.