Txus Vidorreta (55 years old, Bilbao) has worked on Wednesday at La Casilla, a pavilion where he has forged much of his career, preparing for the imminent final phase of the Champions League. There, in that old venue that has an expiration date and is going to be demolished shortly, he has directed Caja Bilbao, Patronato and Bilbao Basket and very intense memories have assailed him. In 2010, the coach from the Indautxu neighborhood was forced to close his stage at home and went on an adventure. He is now fighting for his second European gold medal. “I am happy to be at home and to have this opportunity, it makes me very excited,” he smiles. In his showcase he also has an Intercontinental, with Tenerife, and a Super Cup, with Valencia. He does not forget his roots and even pays tribute to former player and former coach Álex Aurre, who recently passed away: “For those of us who are part of basketball in Bilbao and Bizkaia, he is a benchmark. At ten years old, I used to see that wonderful junior Aurre and Davalillo at the Maristas de Bilbao, at the fronton; that is one of the reasons why 45 years later I am still in the world of basketball. For all of us and, logically, for his family, it has been a very hard blow. I send a big hug to Maite (his wife) and their daughters)”.

Winning the Champions League in Bilbao would be for a Bilbao… a Bilbao?

No, it would be a wonderful thing, in the best city in the world. What more can a person from Bilbao ask for than to win a title in his city? It is very important to play for a European title and to do it at home, it adds a different emotional factor, because my family, friends and basketball fans from the city where I started my professional career and which has given me the opportunity to stay in front of many teams, first from school, then amateur and finally professional.

What did you think when you were told that the Final Four would be a short distance from where you live?

We had always been in the final phases. When I received the news, I said: It will not be this time that we do not qualify! I asked the players for an extra effort, I told them: ‘You have already found out that the Final Four is in Bilbao, many of you have been there and I’m from Bilbao, so I can’t stop being’. Since then, we have not lost a game. The players made a magnificent effort and managed to qualify with authority. Going is not silly at all, we are from Bilbao, we want to raise the cup.

Caprices of fate. It would be a joy.

I found out because my brother had a meeting with the mayor and told him. He texted me right away. Around the same time, the venue was officially announced. The mayor told him jokingly: ‘Tell Txus to take care, otherwise what’s the point of bringing the Champions League to Bilbao?’

What did it mean for Tenerife in its day to organize this F4 and for Bilbao now?

Image and prestige at international level. Bilbao already has it and after these two years of pandemic, it can once again say that we are there. It is the first time that a city without a participating team organizes a final phase and I would have lived not as a failure, but as a great disappointment not to be here. We put our city back on the map of organizer of sporting events. Forgetting the NBA, we are going to focus on the impact of European basketball on the world this weekend.

Is the Champions League the second European competition after the Euroleague or is it the Eurocup?

FIBA is betting heavily on the Champions League. Sports prevail. You can be a great candidate to play it, but if you don’t finish in the top ten in the Endesa League, you don’t have a chance, except for very strange events. There are no A licenses or places acquired by hand. It is important that the sport is governed by the results on the teams’ court, something that rarely happens in the world of elite basketball that we have lived through in the last 30 years. I really like this competition. I wouldn’t compare competitions. The Champìons has acquired great prestige in this short space of time and has very important clubs. More and more leagues are represented and with better teams

You already have a Champions in your backpack; if he takes another, he would equal Peñarroya, who took two with Burgos.

It would be nice, it makes me very excited, like the Intercontinental and the Super Cup (with Valencia). The other day they told me that we have been to 11 of the last twelve Cup and ACB League finals. And in five of the six in the Champions League, and in two finals. We want the third. This indicates that in these six years, Lenovo Tenerife has been in 16 of the last 18 final phases. They are important numbers.

For all those numbers, do they look favorites?

I do not think so. That is the sign they want to put up from outside. We want to win it, but if we don’t prevail on Friday, we won’t lift anything. Better a final to four than to eight, that suits us.

Don’t you feel that pressure?

The pressure was not to be. We’ve been to all the final phases and not qualifying for this one… Internally it was a motivation to be in Bilbao. I face it with great enthusiasm and motivation, with a team that is in a position to play in the final. The first thing was to qualify. Once it was known that the final phase would be in Bilbao, there is extra pressure.

A final against Manresa would be nice.

Well, yes, but for that, they must first beat Holon and Ludwigsburg, who are also qualified to reach the final.

How about the Hapoel Holon?

They defend well and that work at the back has allowed them to eliminate a team like Strasbourg. He has deservedly gotten into the Final Four, for his work. His main weapon is in those who handle the ball. It is a well-balanced, athletic team that plays good basketball, it will be a very demanding game.

He’s a born winner, that’s why I was surprised the other day by his good spirits at the press conference after losing in Bilbao in the league.

We’re also not going to make a drama every time he gets lost! We are in a good moment, the team has responded to a very tough month of April. We made an effort in four games in a row that we won and we paid for it in that week we had to prepare for the one in Barcelona and the other one in a row in Bilbao. It’s what calendars have so compressed. We paid more in Bilbao than in Barcelona, ​​we didn’t have the right feelings. But we are full of morale and in a good moment. In addition, in that Miribilla press room after the game I had many friends. I’m not the same as I was years ago, that’s also true.

Will he no longer be seen kneeling to protest before the referees like years ago?

You kill a dog and they call you a dog killer. It is not the style of Tenerife identified by all during these years.

That victory helped Bilbao Basket a lot in the league and it still gives them more affection among their countrymen ahead of this F4.

It was a match in which Bilbao Basket scored key baskets at important moments. At the beginning and at the end we were soft. The fans that will predominate will be those of Manresa. There will be over a thousand of the Holon. Among our followers, those from Bilbao and Bizkaia and the Zornotza supporters clubs, we could be the second fans represented there. It is a complex weekend, with skyrocketing prices for planes and hotels. Manresa fans can go during the day, like those of Athletic when we have moved to the Cup finals in football. And those of Tenerife have to go four days. Those who are, have enormous merit, because I know the difficulty. As a Bilbaoan, I regret that just this weekend the city is in a frenzy and prices have skyrocketed.

He already signed 50 victories in the Champions League, more than anyone. He is also the one with the most matches. And he is seventh in ACB meetings, with 586, very close to Imbroda and Maldonado, stalking fifth…

I am the one who has been playing the Champions League for the most seasons. They are figures that always please, but you remember them more. I see myself consolidated as a coach. I am living my best years. The Canarias is for me a kind of new Bilbao Basket.

Would lifting this Champions League be something like touching the sky in your career?

Modest coaches and modest teams do not have many opportunities to add titles at the highest level. With the Canarias I have been lucky enough to win a Champions League and an Intercontinental, and now there is the opportunity to win another one… At this moment it would be something comparable to when we managed to ascend categories with Bilbao Basket or when we achieved those two international titles and , as it would be the most recent, well I do see it as the most important.

He is 55 years old and is heading to 41 career, crazy. What remains of that kid whom I had the opportunity to meet at the head of Caja Bilbao, his first great team?

The illusion for basketball, for winning, for day to day. In that, nothing has changed. I always played basketball, in other sports I defended myself. When I was 15 years old they asked me if I wanted to be a coach and almost 41 years have passed, although my profession was related to radio. I had to decide, and I chose basketball.

Do you see yourself as a coach in the future?

No. I am very comfortable at Lenovo Tenerife, I am pleased to see that there is a way to identify the team by the way they play.

Was the most painful moment the unexpected goodbye to Bilbao Basket in 2010 after nine incredible years? That farewell, tearful, in La Casilla…

The goodbye was really in Valladolid, but yes, the press conference was held in La Casilla, as it should be. An act like this can’t be a party, but it was the way out. It is clear to me that the hardest moment was not being able to complete the promotion with Caja Bilbao in 1994. They took away a few years of training at ACB. Then I had to pack.

Will he return to Bilbao?

I have my career as a coach very well on track, maybe I will return with another position, time will tell, but I have always said that it was, is and will be my club, although now I am with Tenerife and I have to divide my heart.


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