They are two sons of well-known former basketball players, Álex (Cáceres, 29 years old), by Miguel Ángel; and Francis (Málaga, 26 years old) de Paco, who achieved even more fame as a coach. In the team they have another descendant of a great player: Ignacio, son of Juan Rosa, formerly of Joventut, Girona, Murcia and Breogán. Both form the first pair of Bilbao Basket players to coincide as internationals. Before them only two wore the red shirt: Mumbrú and Pere Tomàs, the latter also favored by the famous Ventanas. There were many cases that enjoyed that opportunity before landing in Bilbao: Corrales, Azofra, Paco Vázquez, Raül López, Germán Gabriel, Hernández-Sonseca, Javi Rodríguez… Francis has five international gimps and Álex, one. Both already played together in Oviedo of LEB led by a former man in black like Javi Rodríguez in the fateful 2020. Now it’s time to look at Madrid and on Tuesday, the vital match in the Champions League in Turkey against Darussafaka. But beforehand they hold a delicious chat with AS as a witness in Azkuna Zentroa, in La Alhóndiga, in the heart of Bilbao.
Two ‘men in black’ coincide in the Selection, they have made history.
Alex Reyes: Yes, we know that there have been others before, but never two. The photo together would have been very good. It would have been great, we would have looked for it. (Laughter).
Francisco Alonso: We were lucky to be the first players to play a match as leaders in the world ranking, the FIBA ranking. It was the first time in history that Spain played in that position. Sharing that… I told my family, that nobody can take it from us anymore, we are pioneers. And share it together, with your debut… I’m sure you won’t forget it.
TO. A.: At the level of the entire Bilbao Basket, that apart from the Swedes (Hakanson and Andersson) and Sule (with Bosnia), there are players who represent the national team, at all levels is a maximum achievement. We have five players representing their countries! With resources that are not the best, reaching this level must be taken into account. It is our achievement to have been able to get there.
FA: I don’t keep track of my caps, I think there are five. The Eurobasket that Spain has won? The final work is done by those who go, but I do agree that they make you feel part of it after having been in Las Ventanas, it is a detail to give the gold medal to all of us who played those previous games and some of the friendlies. As a Federation, they do a great job making you feel at home, that’s why it’s called ‘La Familia’, and, in that regard, I feel privileged simply for being there. It is not only the player’s merit, being part of the Federation, representing your country and being part of that group is a source of pride.
TO. A.: After the game against Granada, before the list, I saw myself with options. Then I came in due to Barreiro’s injury. By not sneaking into the first call I was pissed off, but not because they didn’t take me and another, it was anger for being left out. Then the sky opened up. I was with my friends in Palencia, I went home quickly, I packed my suitcase and I came to Bilbao. I didn’t know when I had to travel, if the same Sunday, Monday… whenever it was, a great joy. I consider it a great achievement as an athlete to be called by the team of your country.
And Cáceres debuts! Close the perfect circle.
TO. A.: I found out that we were going to play in Iceland and in Cáceres. I said: ‘It would be very nice to be in Cáceres’. I have a lot of family in Extremadura and Andalusia that went to the game. all. I debut in the place where I was born, a coincidence that few people will be able to say they have enjoyed, it is anecdotal. I give much more importance to having been able to wear that shirt, which as an athlete is something very big for those of us who are part of that ‘Family’.
FA: Since I left for the United States, Sergio (Scariolo) has been following me, even before, and has remained in contact. He has shown that confidence in me that he maintains even in bad times. It is something that I will always thank him for and I will return it to him in the right way, with work, seriousness and self-confidence. This year was a time when I didn’t expect it, but that opportunity came.
They have a world champion on the team: Rabaseda.
TO. A.: He’s happy for us. The first thing he did when he saw that we were both there was to congratulate us. As an athlete, you always want to be in these groups. He will have a little anger for not being able to go. There are many players who season after season give reasons to attend. There were 16, but many others also deserve it. Xavi, beyond the numbers, every day does a dirty job, in the mud, which is not taken into account in the statistics and he also deserves it. Perhaps in future appointments he can return, he would be very happy as a teammate and position. He is a great person and a fantastic player.
They have been to many places and they are happy in Bilbao.
TO. A.: Me for Valladolid, Logroño, Lugo, Alicante, Oviedo and Bilbao. I have been lucky to find myself very comfortable in all the places I have been, although I have left some cities more dissatisfied than others. In all the groups I have been to the cinema, although it sounds a bit like a cliché. From the first day, they have made me feel like family and in Bilbao, especially. It is a small club that does things very well at all levels. We are all happy, we live together, it is a very familiar club. I don’t know if it is the place where I have found myself most comfortable, but surely it is a serious candidate to occupy that position. It will be the place where I have spent the most years, with this season and the next one that I have signed, four. Then we’ll see.
FA: I have been through the United States, Malaga, Fuenlabrada… we met in Oviedo, in LEB, for a very short period. COVID took its toll on LEB Oro that season. I have the same feeling, it didn’t take me long to feel the love of the people and the city here. I am very comfortable in this club. People are very easygoing, they care about you on a personal level. The player is secondary. That makes you want to keep improving and working, to give the best to everyone, the team, the city and the fans. I am at that stage of helping to get more victories. I feel very comfortable, with the aim of continuing to improve individually. Of course, in my case, everyone knows what Malaga represents to me. The house is never forgotten.
TO. A.: High in Malaga with the Cup!
FA: I was able to talk to former colleagues who are still there. I published it on the networks, I am very happy for the club and the city. After a few bad years, they needed a joy of that caliber.
TO. R..: The next challenge is Madrid. Topical shot: taller towers have fallen. We have shown it at many moments of the season: either in the match against Madrid at home, which was not scared by very little; in Barcelona, when with a minute to go we were four down; in Malaga, we played a great game until the final stretch of the third quarter… We are a team that, played with the right intensity and concentration, we are difficult to defend and attack. We are very versatile, we have many sections in which we are good. We must raise that concentration from the first moment, which in these last games we have not done. We have come out with a terrible shit. This happens by taking note and learning. We know which path we don’t want to follow and against teams like Madrid we know which path to follow. To go out with the knife between their teeth, they are one of the best teams in Europe, we know the players they have and what their physique is like. As long as we don’t go out with the right intention, it’s going to be uphill for us. After the setback the other day, we want to not repeat that same mistake.
FA: We do not rule out surprising. It has been seen, for example, in the Cup. This League is more competitive every year and we have shown in games in which we have played good basketball that it is difficult to stop. The rival does not matter, whether it is one of the best or below in the table. When we reach that level, it’s difficult to play against us and with that mentality we’re going to Madrid.