Aíto Garcia Reneses, coach of Alba Berlin, in Barcelona.JUAN BARBOSA / EL PAÍS
The figure of Aíto García Reneses (Madrid, 74 years old) is omnipresent and capital in Spanish and European basketball. He catapulted from the Badalona Cotonificio, led one of Barça's best generations, where he concluded his stage in 2001 after winning a Recopa, two Korac Cups, five cups and nine Leagues, the last leading a team in which he exploded Pau Gasol and Saras Jasikevicius also played. He triumphed in two stages with Joventut, where he made his debut for Ricky Rubio and guided the first steps of Rudy Fernández, won the silver medal as coach at the Beijing Games, left his mark at Unicaja, at Sevilla de Porzingis, Satoransky and Willy Hernangómez, at Gran Canaria, and is completing his fourth season at Alba Berlin, with whom he won the League and the Cup and whom the Euroleague has just invited to compete in it for the next two seasons .
Question. He started training at Esparreguera in 1972 while he was still playing base at Barça. He is about to turn 50 on the bench …
Answer. We can count on from when you want but long before, as a Student player, I was already training the club's mini-basketball team. I have been training since I was 17 or 18.
Q. You don't like talking about records a lot?
R. What is there, is there. There are the others to count. In the Euroleague it sounds to me that I have surpassed Ivkovic [he was the oldest in the competition when he led Anadolu Efes in his last match at 72 years and five months].
Q. And the titles?
R. There is a bit of obsession. It is very good to win, but it is also very good to train a team that does not have the possibility of winning, to achieve good results and to see that the players are improving. That seduces me more than winning. If you also win, the better, of course.
Q. Can that be confused with a lack of ambition for not having won a Euroleague?
R. At that time [at Barça, 1985-2001] it was fashionable to say what not did. People can make the summaries they want, but you win the Korac Cup, the Recopa and a lot of Leagues when in 34 years they had only won two. But that does not matter. What matters is that we did not win the Euroleague. Well it's true, we didn't win the Euroleague
P. They played six Final Four and three finals. Didn't it leave you a bitter aftertaste not winning it?
R. No. What satisfies me the most is that, depending on the team we had, it was able to obtain the maximum performance .
Q. Did you get it?
R. I believe Yes. And not only the maximum performance but more things. You can take the criticisms that are out there written about my early years at Barça. We go from third to second, from second to first, first and first. There was constant criticism of why he was making so many changes. So for 10 years. Now who doesn't make changes? I understand the criticism because there was no culture on how the game was going to evolve and we anticipated a little bit
Q. What brought you to Germany at the age of 70?
R. A team project that wants to grow, with young people to whom that you want to incorporate. We are not able to maintain it because the budget is not high enough. We have lost Grigonis [Zalgiris], Giedraitis [Baskonia] and Hermansson [Valencia]. The budget has to grow so that players who make a leap in quality are not taken away from you. And the affection also decided me that now it is easier for them to have me. Before it was easier to criticize me and now, after all my history, I would say that there is an excess of respect. Pretty much anything you do is fine
Q. What can you learn from German basketball?
A. The League is getting better and better. Pandemic aside, all the pavilions are filled, although some are for 5,000 spectators. All matches are broadcast on television. What we could learn is education in the fields. It is very rare, practically impossible, for the fans to berate or insult. And it is impossible that they are not happy with their team, except if they do not fight. His sports education is phenomenal .
P. Pau Gasol has just returned to Barça. When you left, you had the feeling that you were not very confident that you would succeed in the NBA …
R. Let's see, 'Aíto did not trust Pau' means that, when Pau was physically weak, he led the counterattack, that he defended the threes and in his last year he played four and people said nonsense as if Rony Seikaly [ Lebanese player who had triumphed in the NBA and signed Barça] would have been fine, Pau would not have played. We were already playing cod and in London [in a European Cup match] Seikaly didn't play because Pau came out to play there. And Seikaly left. But whether he left or not, Pau was there. Another thing is that I believed that it was not the best time to go to the NBA. He had the luck or the wisdom to go to a team like Memphis in which he could continue to develop thanks to his intelligence not only on the field but also personally, because he had not been in the United States and began to play as if he had been there all his life . It adapted to all circumstances and evolved. He just proved it for the Lakers . People can say what they want, but the real story is that. For me, if it hadn't been for that, what Ginobili did would have been better, a player who triumphs in Argentina, wins the League and the Euroleague in Italy, wins the Games, and then goes to one of the best teams in the NBA . That is the ideal for me. Because now, unfortunately, some young people head to the NBA to suck the bench and move the towel.
Q. How do you like Saras Jasikevicius as a coach?
A. His style already seemed very good to me at Zalgiris. It was probably the team that fought the most in the Euroleague
P. The higher the level of the team, is the more difficult it is to convince the stars?
R. It was said that Aíto did not like the stars and every year the best player of La Liga was one of Barça. Some name stars are not real stars. For example, Mirotic when he was in Madrid defended half of what he defends now. What happens? That it was a star project. Now it has improved in everything. That is the question .
Q. Is there a change in the Madrid-Barça cycle?
R. I think that is very good to be entertained. Because of course, now Campazzo is not in Madrid and he has injuries. But it can be perfectly reborn. The change of cycle that did occur was when, coinciding with my entry into Barça, Madrid had won 30 leagues and Barça one or two and suddenly Barça won nine or 10.
Q. Your future?
R. I don't want to think about it. He did that when he was 30 years old. I have a contract until this course. As the Atlético de Madrid coach says, match by match.
You can follow DEPORTES on Facebook and Twitter , or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter .