Spain loving every minute

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Raptors point guard Jose Calderon was pumped for last night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

For the second time this season, Calderon faced Pau Gasol, his teammate on the Spanish national team, with the game being broadcast back home on the Canal + network.

A slew of Spanish print journalists and various TV crews touched down in Memphis for the game between two of Spain's biggest basketball stars.

Gasol played in last weekend's all-star game, the first all-star in Memphis Grizzlies history, and is leading his squad in a playoff run (29-23) in the tough Western Conference, by averaging 19.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

In a game earlier this season in Toronto, the 7-foot Gasol scored 15 points and added 10 rebounds as Memphis downed the Raptors 92-66.

Calderon was anxious for revenge over his teammate last night, especially with the game on Spanish TV. And while Gasol has been consistently excellent for Memphis, Calderon has experienced growing pains as a rookie.

Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell believes the reason why the laid-back guard hasn't yet taken the bull by the horns, so to speak, is that he has to have more faith in his ability to score.

"He's athletic, he has really got to work on turning that corner, getting to the basket, and use that athletic ability to finish," Mitchell said. "Right now, he doesn't really think that he can finish on these guys. It takes time for that to click in."

Calderon has struggled with his jump shot this season (he's 45% from the field), but Mitchell believes that will improve. The coach has been pushing the 6-foot-3 guard to take the ball aggressively to the basket and not just for a layup.

"Jose can dunk, left handed, right handed, off one leg, two legs," Mitchell said. "What I'm trying to get him to do, when he turns the corner in the game, instead of trying to lay it up, take that one more dribble and go dunk the ball. We see him do it in practice all the time. He can do that in the game, it's just having the confidence to do it."


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