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Minnesota Timberwolves block Juancho Hernangomez from playing in Olympics

May 7, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) reacts after being called for a foul during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
May 7, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) reacts after being called for a foul during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Spanish Basketball Federation said that Juancho Hernangomez has been blocked from playing for Spain in the Tokyo Olympics by the Minnesota Timberwolves, his NBA team.

Hernangomez injured his left shoulder 2 1/2 weeks ago but Spain included him on its final roster for the Olympics, submitted Monday.

Hernangomez traveled to Tokyo and went through Opening Ceremonies on Friday. He was intending to play but the Spanish Basketball Federation was informed by the Timberwolves that Hernangomez will not be allowed to compete.

“Juancho wants to play in the Olympic Games, but Juancho won’t be able to play,” federation president Jorge Garbajosa said in a press conference from Tokyo. “We’ve had countless medical meetings and we’ve never received a ‘no.’ We have received a ‘yes.’

“We don’t have a problem with the Minnesota Timberwolves or the NBA. It’s a problem of people — not medical personnel — who have personally decided that Juancho couldn’t play. I’m talking about their president of basketball operations (Gersson Rosas).”

Rosas put out a statement Saturday afternoon explaining his position.

“We support our international players’ decisions to play with their National teams and appreciate the passion of Juancho and the Spanish Federation to represent their country,” Rosas said. “Unfortunately, we are dealing with an active injury.

“Based on our team physician’s recommendation, Juancho needs time to recover from and rehabilitate his injury, and that timeline restricts Juancho’s availability to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. The determined recovery plan is the best path forward to allow Juancho to heal properly.”

The Spanish team spent five days preparing in Las Vegas prior to flying to Tokyo. Garbajosa said the Timberwolves were in town and never attempted to examine Hernangomez during that time frame.

“The answer about whether Juancho could play was a ‘yes’ and that the next evaluation will be after the Olympics,” Garbajosa said. “From that moment until Minnesota told us that he won’t play, there were a series of facts that showed that the decision isn’t of medical nature. Even the Timberwolves coach (Chris Finch) congratulated Juancho for being in Tokyo. No one doubted that he could play.”

Hernangomez, 25, averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 52 games (six starts) for the Timberwolves last season. He has career averages of 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 257 games (57 starts) over five NBA seasons with the Denver Nuggets (2016-20) and Timberwolves.

Spain’s roster contests of a heavy NBA flavor that includes Ricky Rubio, Pau and Marc Gasol, Alex Abrines and Willy Hernangomez, the older brother of Juancho.

Willy Hernangomez tweeted out a photo of himself and Juancho celebrating during the Opening Ceremonies.

–Field Level Media