Age does not forgive and staying up all night at 20 is not the same as staying up all night at 40. Jordi Sargatal (Girona, 40 years old) arrives on time for the appointment with a tired but happy face after celebrating Bàsquet Girona’s rise the ACB until late. “Everything happened very quickly,” he recalls. He took command of the team in November as they were on the way to relegation (two wins in eight games) and found a blessed gift: Marc Gasol, club founder and president, decided to enter the competition to to be a player too. Bàsquet Girona won 24 of the following 30 games, including an agonizing final against Estudiantes.
Questions. What’s it like training your own President?
answer. It’s not something I think about a lot, but it’s a different experience. When the President comes onto the pitch, he does so with a defined role as a player, and when it comes to cables, we talk about them outside. Of course it went well
P. But the situation gave way in a winning inertia.
R. It’s true. The president has first-hand information about the first-team dressing room, which never happens. It’s atypical, but Marc did the adjustment exercise.
P What can a President discover in a dressing room?
R. The everyday life of the team, internal management. This can be seen by spending hours with the group, experiencing moments of excitement…
P. Can Marc’s presence in the dressing room create insecurities?
R. We all have insecurities at work, they’re normal. It may be that sometimes you reconsider decisions, although I have not found myself in such situations. When a player isn’t performing as expected, Marc’s presence is a double-edged sword: if he passes, he reinforces the technical message; but if it doesn’t fit, it may be different. In any case, his presence creates an additional positive tension.
P. What do you think you have contributed to the center as a coach?
R. On a technical level, certainly less than adapting to the competition and the team. The goal was to match his knowledge and experience to the team level.
P And what have you learned from your experience in the NBA?
R. A lot, especially in communication. In the United States, every word carries the message of success, and Gasol provides that detail. You realize that you can help the player and the team with more concrete messages. He also addressed game situations that worked for him. When you have someone like Marc, you have to adapt your ideas to him. It changes the mental dynamic of the team, there’s calm on the track… It’s like a second coach or a second baseman on the track. He understands the game very well and passes the ball perfectly. It is very effective in communication and very necessary for colleagues. Players are sometimes alone on the pitch and it’s important that teammates can mentor each other.
P. What needs to be optimized at ACB for the next year?
R. That’s up to the President (he jokes). If he continues everything will be easier but we have to take into account the physical factor and the ability to shoot from the outside. In ACB there is a very important jump. The teams have one or two specialists who shoot from the outside.
P. At the LEB Final Four, an average of 28 three-pointers were started per team in each game.
R. The trend is that. Teams are looking for you to shoot from distance. The area has collapsed and players have more and more opportunities to score from the outside. If you can come in and dress up a tray; but if not, look for the three dots directly.
P. Does the game spoil?
R. It’s not as elaborate and maybe less noticeable. Some experts suggest expanding the route because of the increased athletic and physical abilities of the players. There are no rooms for indoor balls. Perhaps contact should be more regulated and not so permissive.
P. Talk about athletic ability. Has it changed that much?
R. in my early years [era preparador físico] I took them to run off-track. That was the trend of the time. Now the sports culture has changed. There is no longer a feeling that players have two months of vacation. As a professional athlete, you have to train all year round. This idea was exported, as were other trends: training is much more specific and a transformation has taken place.
P. You were the assistant to the previous technician, Carles Marco. Can the transition leave personal scars?
R. I think, if. It’s complicated. When you’re 100% with your trainer and a circumstance like this occurs, we don’t know if it can hurt or not. These are situations that maybe the person [entrante] He puts professional and personal growth first, even though there may be a friendship or a good job together. If you experience it, you understand other cases like Guardiola and Tito [acabaron enfadados cuando el último le sucedió en 2012 en el banquillo del FC Barcelona]. You have to try to get by as best you can, but it’s clear that the perception of those who are leaving can be negative. In any case, the losses early in the season coincided with a couple of key injuries and Gasol wasn’t among them.
P. Is it easy to make friends forever in pro sports?
R. I think so. You spend so many hours competing and sharing the track that it can bring you together. Many coaches take former players on to their technical teams because of the bond of trust.
P. What is better to manage leadership, distance or closeness?
R. To enter the player and understand what is best for him you have to be close, but you realize that sometimes this does not help you to do your job well because it does not separate things.
P. Can closeness necessitate professional decisions in order not to damage personal relationships?
R. It’s the dilemma I found in this experience. You have to be able to separate things. Great trainers do that well. Pablo Laso, for example, is very professional and you can tell the affection and closeness to the players. This is the hardest part of putting everything together.
P. What is a player thankful for?
R. That you are sincere in what you are asking and adapting to their abilities. It’s important to be transparent and direct.
P. Which coaches do you admire?
R. To Pep Guardiola; and at the NBA level Phil Jackson is a person who inspires me. They are wise people. I try to learn from them to offer guidance that is not very directive.
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