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“The Spanish future is promising, but I miss a U-22 league”

"The Spanish future is promising, but I miss a U-22 league"

Players, coaches, referees and managers have their protagonist in the world of basketball, but also representatives, a task that is not well known, in general, by fans. We talked to one of them, Víctor Belinchón, from the You First agency, one of the main Belinchón, in addition, is specialist in training players and can tell us about the situation of Spanish basketball, about what is coming from behind in the quarry after a magical summereight finals out of eight in the youth teams, three golds (Under-20 men and women and the boys in the U-18) and the rest, five silvers.

Greetings, Victor. First of all, tell me how you joined this world?

I had the opportunity many years ago to give my opinions about young players on the now defunct KIA en Zona website. Back then there was hardly any coverage of national and international promises and David Sardinero (director of Gigantes magazine) trusted me to lead that product. We had a large audience, it was something that was hardly talked about at the time and that made it recognized in the small world of training basketball. Thanks to that, I was later able to move from home because I had the opportunity to work in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the prestigious Canarias Basketball Academy. There he had a role of discovering new talents (‘scout’) and trying to convince them to join the Academy (‘recruiter’). I was there for a year, I learned a lot from Rob Orellana and later I had the opportunity to join You First. Guillermo Bermejo and Regino Olivares called me, they told me what they were looking for, what they wanted, they thought I could fit in and here I am. I started as a ‘scout’, doing reports on which players I thought had potential and right now I’ve been working as an agent for a couple of years.

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Ángel Delgado, former Estu and Bilbao player, and now in Turkey, with Víctor Belinchón.

How do you work for recruit, if that is the word, to budding figures? How are the changes of a player from one representation agency to another managed?

An agent always has to be aware of everything and everyone, know the situation of the player and the club, see if the wishes of both parties coincide and, if something goes wrong, be prepared to draw your weapons and try to convince him that with you the path it can be longer and with greater benefits for both parties. Players can change agents as they change clubs, here the key is to be honest, know how to take care of them and always anticipate the problem that may come.

How is the deal with the clubs? And how has the market changed from your point of view, first with COVID and then with the exclusion of the Russian teams?

The treatment with the clubs is cordial and good, since both parties need each other. Since COVID there are many teams that are more conservative and are aware that everything can stop again, so they are more cautious and talkative when drafting a contract… something logical, since they had very high economic losses during the pandemic. On the other hand, the exclusion of the Russian teams accelerated the market in the Euroleague teams, since due to the war many players who had a contract with the main Russian teams were able and asked to go out on the market and be able to continue competing in the maximum international competition.

I see many European and American players, more than I imagined, who have gone to play in Russia and from abroad it is a bit surprising. How are these incorporations to Russian clubs now managed?

Russian teams continue to be one of the greatest economic powers in the Old Continent and for this reason they can achieve many things or convince many players.

As an expert in training basketball, what do you think of the new generations of Spanish players and the change that has begun to take place in the National Team?

I think that the main problem in Spain with young players is that the junior category only lasts two years and the jump from training basketball to professional basketball is too big. I think that the ACB and the FEB should reach an agreement or try to create a U-22 league like there is in other countries and thus help the training of national players… How many players between 18 and 22 years old play minutes of true in professional leagues? There is a lot of pressure to win and it is always easier to have a veteran than a youngster because of experience.

Which players would you especially highlight for the coming years and why?

In Spain, luckily and because there are good players, there are many players called to be on the front pages tomorrow. On a talent level it is, together with Serbia, the most dominant in all of Europe and on a physical level it is becoming more and more equal to France. To highlight some names, I would cite several:

Ruben Dominguez, the best scorer that Spain has in its lower categories. He sees the hoop as very big and his skills have not stopped increasing in recent years, now becoming a more versatile player while continuing to be that magnificent shooter that amazed him in his early training. Excellent work ethic and ease of improvement, he highlights how well and how much he has improved defensively last season.

Izan Almansa He has a great ability to make the difficult easy. He does not need to bounce the ball a lot to be differential and he is always in the right place and at the right time, excellent in rebounding tasks and life insurance in defense. It will be key to improve the mid-distance shot. For me he has been The Player of the magnificent summer in the lower categories of the Spanish National Team.

Miguel Malik Allen and Baba Miller They both have enormous physical capacity, getting to be better shooters and technically two excellent players for their size.

Aday Mara and Lucas Langarita they are the result of the good work that Casademont Zaragoza does in its lower categories. Two very well worked players from minibasket, with a quite significant technical and tactical evolution. Aday will be the roof of Spanish basketball and has a talent that would probably be more valued if he had a last name ending in -ic and came from outside and Lucas, for his part, combines talent, dedication, aim and security when he heads towards the hoop.

Mario Saint Supery He is one of the most entertaining players to watch, due to his advanced knowledge of the game and that combination of speed plus scoring that, personally, reminds me of the best version of Llull. A boy that from a distance you realize that he works well, with a good environment. He has amazed me how he has improved outside shooting in recent months.

Hugo Gonzalez, for me the most differential player in Europe in his generation due to his innate talent, aim from long distance and breadth of resources to finish close to the hoop. A forward with a privileged physique who technically has been very well worked in the Real Madrid youth academy. He is differential.

And further down I would write down the names of Marcos Zurita, Gildas Giménez, Alberto Blanco and Nico Gómezwho are other young players who have all the good looks in the world and are also in good clubs where they care and work well on the issue of training.

How do you see the future of the Spanish National Team?

The future is promising because there is talent, although it will be key for the players to have minutes to continue developing that talent and bring joy to Spanish basketball in the future.

And in Europe, what projects of big players would you highlight for the coming years?

Sidy Cissoko, Fedor Zugic, Pavel Savkov, Victor Wembanyama, Motejius Krivas, Matteo Spagnolo…

How do you think the development of a player with NBA potential should be approached when deciding between his training, the position in the draft, the competitive level of the team he is in Europe, if it is better to wait or go to the USA UU soon and finish training there…?

The more minutes a player has, the more exposure he will have and the closer to the United States he is, the more NBA teams will see him. The example is Santi Aldama, who is playing in the NBA without ever having played in the EBA League.

I would like to know your opinion about the ACB and the Euroleague, has the level increased this season?

I think that this season we are going to see a high level in the Euroleague, with always warrior teams like Maccabi, Partizan, Alba Berlin, Panathinaikos, Fenerbahçe and the Spanish, who will try to defeat the champion these last two seasons, Anadolu Efes. And the ACB, for its part, may be tighter between Barcelona and Real Madrid than in recent years, since both teams, from my point of view, have strengthened very well.

Let’s go back a few weeks, to the Eurobasket, what do you think of the premature elimination of the big stars, of the championship in general and of the new talents?

In basketball they play five against five and the one who receives the fewest points wins and Spain in defense was a much better team than any other in this EuroBasket. The triumph comes after a perfect championship. We weren’t the team with the most names, but our players were the ones who had the most fun on the pitch. Alberto Díaz gave a clinic in defense every game, Willy proved to be a perfect leader, also for the next few years in the National Team, Juancho will always face you and ask for the ball on the important day because he has a lot of confidence in his possibilities and it is good to have it, because it is very good. And Brown was to unbalance you with his one on one, in Spain there are no players who have that speed plus handling the ball more easily to finish and who, in addition, can be regular in the long distance shot. The championship that Scariolo and his staff raised and the boys played was outstanding.

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