Ricky Rubio isn’t having the best year of his young career by a long shot.
He endured a disappointing FIBA World Championship in Turkey with Spain finishing sixth.
It was the first time Spain had lost in the Quarter-Finals of a major tournament since the 2004 Olympics.
In the ACB, Barcelona are 4-1 but Rubio, who turned 20 on October 21, has often appeared frustrated.
While he is still a tough-as-nails defender and an excellent player in transition, his suspect jump shot remains the biggest chink in his armor.
In five ACB games, Rubio has made two of 13 (15%) shots from long range and inside the arc, he’s four of 16 (25%).
“I am calm,” he said to FIBA.com.
“Players go through ups and downs and perhaps I’m not having much luck in shooting but I keep working hard and improve.
“It helps me that the team wins.”
Winning is the only result that is acceptable at Barca, who will host Fenerbahce Ulker on Thursday in the Euroleague.
Last season, the club won the Supercopa, the Copa del Rey and the Euroleague but then lost three close games to Caja Laboral.
“With Barcelona you always have the pressure that you have to play and win,” Rubio said.
“At times, you have to leave behind the nice play in order to win.
“Our expectations for the season are the maximum possible.
“We will try to fight for every title and we will work day by day to try to achieve that.”
Rubio was selected fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft.
How long will he stay in Spain?
“I feel very comfortable with the team, with my coach (Xavier Pascual) and I feel the support of all of my teammates,” he said.
“In the time I’ve been with Barcelona, I have learned a lot.
“One of the things that I’ve learned is to compete 100% every day and to be prepared to play for any game.
“Barcelona cannot lose and always has to play well in every game and that is very difficult to keep it going for the whole season.
“And in order to keep up that rhythm going, you have to be good mentally.”
The Spain internationals do look happier back at their clubs than they did this summer in Turkey.
It was a blow not to have Pau Gasol, a player that some think could be the best in the world right now.
He decided to rest this summer and not play in Turkey in order to be fresh for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are going after a third straight NBA title.
The absence of Gasol, and the injury suffered by point guard Jose Calderon that knocked the starting point guard out just days before the start of the tournament, had a negative effect on all of the players.
Rubio was no exception.
“It was a hard World Championship because things didn’t work out as a team, or from an individual standpoint,” Rubio said.
“That always affects the confidence.
“I think with wins, little by little the confidence will grow and I will be the player I was before.”
Spain will be looking to return to the podium at the EuroBasket in Lithuania next season.
“I am sure whatever happens, the Spanish national team will always compete to win gold at the EuroBasket,” he said.
“We will see how we all finish this season and see who deserves to go.”
Jeff Taylor


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