“Basketball was a matter of life and death for me”

Pedro Ferrándiz (Alicante, November 20, 1928) is a legend in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish basketball. As coach of the white club for 13 seasons, in three different stages between 1959 and 1975 (1959-1962, 1964-1965 and 1966-1975), he won 27 titles: 4 European Cups, 12 Leagues and 11 Cups, becoming the most successful coach ever in our country despite having retired with only 46 years. A world basketball giant who will insert his name into the FEB Hall of Fame on October 21 at the Cartuja Stadium (Seville).

Q. Happy to be part of the FEB Hall of Fame?

A. Being part of the Hall of Fame in your country is to be proud of. Above all, considering that I am already in the United States and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). It is a recognition of great honor.

Q. When you talk about you, it is emphasized that you were a revolutionary coach, is that true?

A. That’s what they say. It will be true. I made basketball the passion of my life. I had the ability to make interventions from the bench that were a bit anomalous for the time, but always in favor of basketball. He took advantage of the regulation or the game itself to make a surprise gesture.

Q. What were you like as a coach? For those young people who do not know him.

R. That should be others who prosecute. I think I was a fairly adequate coach for what the profession demands and the proof is that I was in a club all my life and there was never a place where they dispensed with me. Therefore, it is to be very proud.

P. And your Madrid? How was it?

R. The best team that has existed in Spain, from then until now. In all aspects. I took charge of Madrid in total bankruptcy and, from my performance, the club has always had a top-of-the-line level, opting for all possible titles. That is what I am most proud of.

Q. How much did your connection with Raimundo Saporta, vice president of Madrid and president of the basketball section have to do with that success?

R. Saporta was a genius to whom basketball owes much more than it recognizes. My relationship with him had ups and downs, as there had to be, because we both had very strong personalities. We had clashes in many respects, but he was always a great boss.

Q. His ex-pupils say that he was a very disciplined coach and also a self-taught one, was that right?

A. Yes. I did not agree with the canons of the time or with the rules that were in training or with the behavior of the players. For example, he required children to train like professionals. That always takes him to the letter, since I took charge of the Madrid child. For me they were professionals and if they wanted to continue, they had to follow the rules of professionalism, but without charging a penny or a free Coke, let’s go. That was the rule he imposed.

Q. You retired in 1975 at the age of 46 because, according to you, the titles came out of your ears, do you regret it?

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R. No. I left it in good time, in full wave of triumph. People keep good memories of me and I think I was right.

Q. What would you say to those who say that basketball was easier in your day?

R. When time passes, people say and feel that today’s basketball is more difficult. But now, for example, beating the Russians is more feasible. So, in my time, beating them was an impossible thing and we succeeded. So, in that field, we acted in a totally unexpected way and we burst into European basketball in an unexpected way.

P. He is the most successful coach in Spanish basketball with 27 titles. I know it’s difficult, but which one do you remember most fondly?

R. The first European Cup that we won in 1965. That is perhaps the most shocking.

P. You trained 13 years at Madrid, what was your secret?

R. Maybe my ability in this sport. The truth is that for me, basketball was a matter of life and death. My profession. So much so, that when Madrid signed me, on a stone seat in the Retiro, I swore that I would either triumph or commit suicide. From said to fact, there is a stretch, of course, but it was my mental situation at that time. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

P. Of the great players that the National Team has had in the last decade such as Pau Gasol, Navarro, Felipe Reyes, Llull … who would you have liked to train?

R. The truth is that none. I am very proud of all those players that I coached. I am sure that I have been the driving force behind basketball in Spain. It was one thing and, when I arrived at Madrid, everything changed radically. The club had hardly won titles in 20 years and I gave it 12 in the league. I am very satisfied to have started a very brilliant time in Madrid basketball.

Q. When you retired you left Lolo Sainz in charge and said that he was your successor. Did you live up to your legacy?

A. Yes. Yes. He had a very brilliant career and, in many ways, surpassed my record. For example, with the Intercontinental, which did not exist in my time. And then he has had an excellent track record. Come on, comparable to mine, without a doubt.

P. Pablo Laso has already been eleven seasons and 21 titles, can he also be considered as a coach who has continued his legacy at the club?

A. Of course. Perfectly. For the years he has been at Madrid and his career, which is going to be remarkable, for history. Above all, because it is still active. His ability as a coach is not in doubt.

Q. Are you currently following your Madrid?

A. Yes. I think they are the usual powerful team, but now other teams have grown a lot. They are more competitive. Before, Madrid was the king of Europe and now it is one more to win the title.

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