The stardom of Spanish promising teenager Richard "Ricky" Rubio is no less than any of the super stars at the Olympics, but the sensation is way far to be a great basketball player.
Spanish basketball player Richard "Ricky" Rubio
Rubio, who will turn 18 on Oct. 21, might be the youngest player to win the Olympic basketball title could Spain win at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Playing alongside with Los Angeles Lakers' center Pau Gasol and other Spaniard stars from the National Basketball Association, Rubio was the favorite of the media at Beijing though his club, Joventut, and his family ask him to be unavailable for interviews until he turns 18.
He talked little to foreign media and never attended post-game press conferences. Only few Spanish media had successful interviews with him as he was quite happy to get away from excessive media attention.
"I see no difference between 17 years old and 27 years old," Rubio said when he was asked of competing against older opponents at the Olympics.
In August of 2006, Rubio led the junior Spanish national team to the FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship.
He had unprecedented performance to stun the world in the tournament as he had 51 points, 24 rebounds, 12 assists and 7 steals in a 110-106 double overtime finale victory over Russia. His 3-pointer from mid-court beat the buzzer to force the first overtime.
The 1.92-meter-high (6 ft 4 in) Spaniard became the youngest player ever to play in the Spanish ACB league in the 2005-06 season.
Displaying amazing talent and maturity despite his young age, Rubio is commonly regarded as the best European guard prospect, and was promised to be among the top three pick in the first round if he announces his availability to the NBA Draft in 2010.
He failed to live up to the expectation in Tuesday's 85-75 overtime win over China as he had only one point in over 20 minutes playing time.
Spanish press had no hesitation to critisize him and head coach Aito Garcia after the thriller though he had five steals, four rebounds and four assists in that match.
Rubio averaged five points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists to help Spain to a 3-0 record so far at the Olympics.
"I'm here to win the gold medal," he said.
With unexpected maturity and understandings of the game, Rubio gave some clues as the best non-NBA prospect in the world, quoted from SLAM Magazine, but has long way to be super star.
Rubio has a promising bright future at the ACB League and the European League, or even an NBA career in a few years, with the Beijing Olympics one of the best way for his success.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)