Vladimir Stankovic speaks to Aito Garcia Reneses at L’Hospitalet 2012.
Aito Garcia Reneses, a legendary coach of several Spanish teams, linked to Catalan basketball through his work in Cotonificio, FC Barcelona and Joventut, has followed the L’Hospitalet 2012 tournament from day one.
VS: Surely this tournament is not your "debut" in Hospitalet. How do you remember previous years?
AG: While training in Catalonia, I always tried to get to this tournament, which over time has earned a reputation well deserved. It's an unusual thing for a club, with all due respect, as in the CB L'Hospitalet organize for many years with much success a tournament like this. It is well placed in the season, and it is good to see young talent from Spain and Europe.
VS: For some years the tournament has been part of the classification system for the Euroleague. Can we call it the ‘unofficial’ Junior European Club championship?
AG: Without doubt. With so many teams going through 4 tournaments of top-level junior competition. This has benefited the Hospitalet tournament, Euroleague and of course basketball itself.
VS: Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez are the last two of your students to go through the Hospitalet tournament, but in the past there were many more ...
AG: Yes, many of my players have played here ... Esteller, Alzamora, Pau Gasol, Navarro... There are many.
VS: It seems that today there is less talent. Is it the fault of the coaches?
AG: Part of the responsibility belongs to other coaches, but they are not the only culprits. Not at all. The greatest fault of the clubs is looking how to survive the present and not how to create projects which can flourish in the future. Coaches are always working on a razor's edge, they often do not have enough time to wait for a player to mature. The problem comes from there. I, personally, was lucky that in all my teams I had young talent and results. I felt this pressure most of the coaches suffer every day. We must also know that every young player is not future star. Sometimes it takes generations without a player who can get on the first team.
VS: During this tournament, have there been any interesting players?
AG: I liked the Latvian Kristaps Porzingis from Cajasol, he has everything, he is tall, fast and has good hands. It's good practice to help players like him. There are several more, such as Aleksandr Zhigulin of Barca, but the problem is not the talent of today, but its ability to improve to be better tomorrow or in the future. This spirit of work, sacrifice and daily improvement is the difference between talent and real players.
VS: We read your analysis, very interesting indeed, on the website of the Euroleague. Do you like this new challenge?
AG: Yes, I take it as a service to basketball. I think it is for the first time we are providing analysis in this way, combining textual analysis with clips to illustrate what I mean. I think it may be useful for coaches and for the fans, from a different point of view.
Photos courtesy of Jordi Montraveta