Gasol to miss worlds for Spain

MADRID -- Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol says he will not help Spain defend its title at the world basketball championships because doctors say he needs a rest.

Gasol says "present circumstances advise against my participation" in the championship in Turkey from Aug. 29 to Sept. 12.

"It was hard," Gasol said of his decision. "We accomplished many great things as a team, and it was always a fun time for me. ... But I have to understand how much basketball I've been playing over the last three years, and how much I want to give to the Lakers over the next several years. I know if I continue to do [both], my body is going to break down."

Gasol and the Lakers face the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Game 1 is Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Since the beginning of the 2007-08 season with Memphis before his trade to Los Angeles, Gasol has played in 272 NBA games -- and the strain is catching up to him. The 7-foot center missed the Lakers' first 11 games this season with a strained right hamstring, and he sat out six games in January with a strained left hamstring.

Gasol, who turns 30 next month, also hopes his absence will allow Spain's younger players to fill major roles on the national team.

Spain will defend its title in the championship in Turkey from Aug. 29-Sept. 12, playing in Group D alongside France, New Zealand, Lithuania, Lebanon and Canada. Gasol, also an Olympic star in Beijing, helped Spain win its first world title four years ago in Japan.

In a statement on his website on Tuesday, Gasol says that in a grueling NBA season in which he's sustained the first two major muscle injuries of his career, "my body is calling for a temporary relief."

On Monday night before he made his decision, Gasol explained to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com why he was considering not participating.

"I understand what point of my career I'm in, how my body is feeling at this point in my career also and what I need to do in order to have a longer, healthier career," Gasol said.

"So, I'm just trying to take the right steps. I had two tears in my hamstrings this season and even though I'm feeling pretty good at this point, I don't want to overdo it because, the body, we're not machines. The body takes a lot of punishment from what we do and you just got to give it a break."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin was used in this report.