MADRID (Agencies) Spanish basketball star Pau Gasol has been chosen to replace Rafael Nadal as the flagbearer for the Spanish Olympic team at the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday next, July 27th. Nadal, the winner of the gold medal in tennis in Beijing four years ago, was forced to pull out of the Games on Thursday because of knee problems. It had been expected that yachtsman Xabi Fernandez would be given the honor of carrying the Spanish flag, but he declined and Gasol will lead the Spanish team into the Olympic arena. Gasol is perhaps the most famous Spanish basketball player of all time, helping his country to the silver medal four years ago, as well as the 2006 World Championship and the 2009 and 2011 European Championships. He currently plays for the LA Lakers. "There are no words to describe how emotional my phone call was with Rafael Nadal," explained Alejandro Blanco, the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, "both in his case as with Pau Gasol, there was a unanimous decision taking over who should carry the flag." "Nobody represents us better than Gasol," he stated.