VITORIA (2010 FIBA World Championship) – Aside from a blunder at the end of Game 2 in the ACB play-off finals at Barcelona, Fernando San Emeterio has done more than enough to merit consideration for a spot in Spain’s national squad for the FIBA World Championship.
Other than Brazil internationals Tiago Splitter and Marcelo Huertas, no player has been more important in this season of transition for a Caja Laboral team that last summer lost vital players in Pete Mickael (Barcelona), Pablo Prigioni and Sergi Vidal (both Real Madrid) than San Emeterio.
The 26-year-old’s play in Caja Laboral’s wins in Games 1 and 2 was nothing short of outstanding.
In the 63-58 opening triumph at Barca, Emeterio had 10 points and nine rebounds while in the 70-69 triumph in Game 2, he poured in a game-high 19 points.
San Emeterio was fortunate his gaffe at the end of the second game did not cost Caja Laboral victory.
With Caja leading by three and not wanting to give away a potential game-tying three-ball, San Emeterio bear-hugged Gianluca Basile and was called for an unsportsmanlike foul.
Basile made two free-throws and Barcelona maintained possession.
Caja Laboral guard Pau Ribas, another underrated Spaniard, rescued the team when he picked off a Ricky Rubio pass that had been intended for Erazem Lorbek and the final buzzer sounded.
San Emeterio’s play has led to calls for the 1.97m forward to be included in Spain’s squad for the FIBA World Championship.
"I'm not thinking of the national team,” San Emeterio said.
“I'm only thinking of winning a (ACB) title that would be very important for me.
“Without a doubt I would like to, but I will have time in the summer to talk about this.
“I try to help my team and then it's the national coach that will decide."
Spain coach Sergio Scariolo can’t help but be impressed by the players like San Emeterio and Ribas at a club that he once coached.
As for closing out the series, San Emeterio knows it won’t be easy.
Barcelona won the Supercopa, the Copa del Rey and the Euroleague.
Victory on Tuesday night would cap an amazing post-season for Caja Laboral, though, who swept Asefa Estudiantes in the first round and then beat Real Madrid in a thrilling best-of-five semi-final.
Caja Laboral won twice at Barca’s Palau Blaugrana and now they return to the friendly confines of their own Fernando Buesa Arena.
"I already said after the second game that the game we would suffer the most in would be this one, the third,” San Emeterio said.
“We have to keep on working as we have done in the last two games and even so, we could lose.
“It's going to be very complicated so we cannot let our guard down at any time because they are the best team in Europe.
“It seems that we have to win because we are playing at home and we are 2-0 up, but they will come here ready to give everything.
“They are a wounded side that has never been in this situation and they are going to complicate our lives."