Scariolo closes 2022 in AS: “The FIBA ​​number one is dizzying”

In 2022, Sergio Scariolo did it again. The Italian national coach unexpectedly conquered the fourth Eurobasket for Spanish men’s basketball after building a team that hooked the fans for its tremendous values. In AS he reflects on what happened in Berlin but, above all, he has his sights set on the future. The machine does not stop.

2022 has been a great year for Spanish basketball, for you. But a good handful of friends have also left him and he is sure to have mixed feelings this Christmas when he sits down at the table.

If true. It is exactly like that. Sportingly it has been a very good year, with three titles between the Selection and Virtus and with significant things like the Eurobasket, the return to the Euroleague…, but you also remember those friends who have left you without you expecting it because the three ( Javier Imbroda, Alfonso Queipo de Llano, José María Martín Urbano) could have given us a bit of a kick before, but it was a relatively calm moment and there were three blows. Also that of Manolo Santana, to whom he was also very close. Anyway, in that sense it has been a year with its B side of the medal.

But also very happy. Three years ago, one Christmas, he dined with the Larry O’Brien trophy for NBA champion, which he had won with the Raptors along with world gold with Spain. Any news this year?

-(Laughs). No, so I was farsighted and since the Raptors let each of us have the trophy for three days at home, I reserved Christmas days because the family came and it was nice. This year we will again have a house full of family at Christmas. And on New Year’s Eve with friends but, of course, the medals are in my office and always waiting to be able to place them in the trophy room. The news is that the work has begun. The machine has already started.

It was time!

Yeah. Licensed and all.

What happened to the NBA champion ring that was in a safe deposit box in Toronto?

He has returned and is in Spanish territory. A good friend went to Toronto and returned them (also the world champion gold medal) to Europe.

The year ended with number one in the FIBA ​​ranking. An award for a career rather than a title.

Yes. Of course it is an extremely prestigious and significant photo because they are things that may only occur once in the history of a country. Even if it were something momentary or ephemeral, to think that a country like Spain is, at the same time, world champion, European champion and FIBA ​​number one is almost dizzying. Even if you know that it cannot be the usual tonic, it is indeed impressive and that image is dizzying.

Rudy, with the European Champion Cup.

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Rudy, with the European Champion Cup.ANNEGRET HILSEDiaryAS

Did you think that this team was going to stay on top after being world champion, after the Gasols left, after Ricky’s injury?

It’s hard. Of course, we are very clear that we can forecast a sufficient amount of talent to be able to compete at a high level after this Olympic cycle ends if the clubs and players continue this growth effort. But there are two editions or two competitions in which we will have to make a huge effort to maintain a good level of competitiveness.

He says that it is dizzying to see himself as number one in the FIBA ​​photo. Do you feel dizzy when your expectations are skyrocketing with a view to the World Cup?

Obviously, in both competitions we will come out far from a logical medal forecast. Then, it is true that in recent years we have collectively demonstrated a multiplying capacity for individual talent thanks to the players, to their ability to be together. We have very internalized values ​​that allow us to surpass what we can theoretically do. But the logical starting point will always be far from the medal. And I would add that the only vision that can be understood with this team is that of gratitude and unconditional support. No expectations. The expectation with this team has to be to see it compete, show its face, be recognizable. But this team has given so much to Spanish sport that no type of pressure can be admissible for a result.

Does it hurt you to see that the Eurobasket MVP has no place in your franchise’s rotation? I already said this summer that, for that, the NBA is “rare.” have you talked to him?

It hurts for the partner, for the person. But also having been there for a few years, and knowing the situations well, I understand what is happening and even if I don’t like it, there is no other choice, for Willy and for those of us behind it, but to accept it and find another team. that you may need it more. Because his team is doing well, he has a very powerful inside game and it’s just that this is not the team for him to have space and show what he could do. It’s not the NBA, it’s the team.

In the summer I was worried because many players would not arrive at the Eurobasket improved compared to the previous year. Is this year different?

Juancho himself has had his minutes, Usman also takes advantage of his. Also, now Ricky is about to return, he looks good. So there is some green shoot.

Do you already have a sketch for the 2023 team in mind?

We always have a large group of 18 or 20 players that then narrows down a bit when the preparation starts. You have to have an idea and ours is to give continuity to our project, which has been demonstrating for years that it flows well and that it evolves. It is about taking advantage of the forces still in force and gradually introducing new forces that come out of the quarry and show that they can do something different. Then, history shows that you have to know how to react on the fly. But that always within a global discourse of a group that is broad but that when it comes to concentrating for the summer competition is reduced a little.

He has known Aldama since he was very young, because in fact he played with his son Alessandro. Does the fact that he has been in the United States for so long affect his fit in the senior team?

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Unfortunately, COVID prevented that generation from playing in the U-20 European Championship, but I do not foresee special difficulties compared to the obvious and always present difficulties of a player who competes during the season according to NBA rules, another role… There is always a need of adaptation and to understand the difference of the role that it can have. But honestly, I don’t foresee any additional difficulties in Santi’s case because I also know him personally and he is a reliable and easy-going person with whom none of his colleagues will feel less than comfortable. And I also do not foresee difficulties for myself. Once again, there will be an initial phase of the preparation and we will calibrate the so that a cohesive block can be formed.

Santi Aldama, with Memphis Grizzlies.

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Santi Aldama, with Memphis Grizzlies.ElsaGetty Images

Speaking of the Aldama case, Izan Almansa is in the United States. Aday Mara can also go… You know the matter well because his son has also been educated there and has trained in the NBA. What do you think that talents go to the United States so young; Can it affect training?

The answer is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, if an 18-year-old player who is here in Spain does not have a guarantee or a real possibility of competing for many minutes until he is a full-fledged professional; And if he’s interested in continuing his studies, which I would recommend to anyone because no one knows what could happen to your playing career, there’s nothing better than going there. Obviously, it’s hard because you have to find your place in squads with a very high physical level. There are players who have returned early. But there is no doubt that for X time, they play a different kind of game. And when they come back they need a retraining. And that is not a simple process.

To what extent would it make you happy that Ricky was once again the axis of the National Team in the 2023 World Cup?

For the person, for his character, and beyond his game, Ricky is a reference for everyone. I think it would be a blessing if the National Team had him again as a leader and reference and I am sure that there is a compatibility with Lorenzo Brown, although he needs logical adjustments from him.

Your contract ends in 2024. Have you already considered anything about the future?

Honestly, my gaze is there. I explain. That, at the competition level. At the work level, it is set in more years seen. But not necessarily with my presence because that’s hard to say. I want to build a team that is as competitive as possible in the medium term and that is as competitive as possible in the short term.

If it is possible to know, how many offers has Sergio Scariolo had from federations since he is European and world champion?

Someone has approached you, but they make you an offer when you let them make you an offer. If not, it stays in one interest and that the same thing will be talked about again in X time. And there it has stayed because I have not felt any need to move forward.

Would you be interested in coaching another team, your country for example?

I am not one to look too far ahead. I have some contracts in force until 2024 and because of how I am made, I live and work as if I were going to stay for the rest of my life. And I’ve always been like that, I don’t know any other way to work

Basketball must have taken him much further than half the world. But do you know the Philippines?

I have never been.

Does a World Cup there attract your attention, with a final phase in a pavilion that can hold 50,000 people?

Well, the truth is that basketball has allowed me to live enriching experiences that have improved me as a person and this looks like it could be. Obviously we still don’t know where we will play (Spain could play the first phase in the Philippines, Indonesia or Japan) but, of course, basketball is expanding. But there it was. I remember when I was in Milan that on Sundays, when we played away from home, the Palalido was rented out to the Filipino community, which was huge. And very passionate about basketball. They put 4,000 people in the stands of that internal tournament for Filipino boys. So I already had for many years the feeling that it was a team

It has been his year of return to the Euroleague. How has it been found?

Very fun, stimulating. Physically, it is a very tough competition with a tremendous physical and athletic impact. With a lot of quality. We as a team have approached a squad of which almost three quarters of the players had not performed in the competition. And the club had not played in the Euroleague for 20 years, so there is a learning process even for myself, who was returning to the Euroleague after seven or eight years. We’ve had injuries and we haven’t been able to play with the full roster for even one game, but it has helped us grow. And we are in the group of those who fight so that until the end we have a chance to be in the playoffs.

Each one of those who was in Tblisi and Berlin has their Eurobasket photo. What is yours?

I would say there was a day or two where every time I ran into Rudy, it was all very emotional. For knowing everything that was behind this championship, for being with him after many years, and for those signs of leadership that he gave, even an unexpected point if I’m telling the truth on my part. Every time I ran into him, I was excited. That, associating someone with a set of experiences and emotions, has rarely happened to me. But there were also others. Being with the guys who had never won anything important. Being with the Hernangómez brothers, who recognized me a little in admiration. A family that still hasn’t had the luck they deserved in the NBA. See them rejoice together, with a union that goes beyond brotherhood, and friendship, so special. Those emotions I will keep forever.

Are we waiting for Rudy in the Philippines?

Let’s hope he starts playing, that it’s his turn… (laughs).

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