The celebration was felt in Formosa. Pioneros de Quintana Roo was defeating Obras in the last match of the Final Four of the Liga de Las Americas 2012. They struck the blow between Argentines and Brazilians. They became, incidentally, the only Mexican club to win the most important club tournament in this part of the world. And in the middle of the festivities he was. Robert Lagos, the iconic former player who shone in Dimayor and found a second home in Mexico. The Chilean was part of the champion coaching staff.
“No one is a prophet in his land,” the cliché phrase that fits well in Lagos. Not because playing in the country has gone bad for him, on the contrary, he had a successful career that ended at the age of 32, more because of disappointment than because of level; if not because he found a new path in Mexico, when in June 2007 he went to work in Chihuahua with his family. “I left Chile disappointed. I retired and didn’t want to know much about basketball, “says Robert.
But the blood pulls. The mother of his daughters, a journalist, invited him to see the Mexico team against a Cancun team. She was related to basketball, so little by little Robert was getting closer to her. Pioneros de Quintana Roo invited him to train, but his only option to play the Mexican league was to nationalize, since the foreigners who came to reinforce had a past in the NBA and Europe. It was complicated. That, however, brought him further into the team.
Robert trained as one of the others. He entered the dressing room and felt valued despite not being on the floor. “I was linked until the Argentine coach Daniel Jaule (2007) arrived, who invited me to be his assistant. I had to certify myself as a FIBA coach, ”says Lagos.
That was the beginning of a path that was successful. The owner of the team offered him to be a sports director, so Robert developed a “massification project at the state, regional and national level, plus a brand positioning project”, which he worked during the five years he was in office.
He was the second assistant to coach Josep Clarós, when they won the Liga de las Americas, the greatest international achievement of a Mexican team. He was also in the vice-championship of 2015. This led the Mexican Federation to designate, both times, the Pioneros coaching staff for their selection, including the Chilean. Lagos took advantage of the rebirth of Aztec basketball, which in 2014 had returned to play a World Cup after 40 years.
In early 2020, Robert took over as first coach of Pioneros de Delicias, of the Chihuahua state league. His solo experience was abruptly cut off by the pandemic, two dates after the regular phase ended. In March, motivated by the family, he decided to return to Chile. Now she is in Temuco with her eight and 15-year-old daughters, working in a construction supplies logistics and distribution company.
And although he is in a different field, he does not forget the sport that made him happy. He is currently the vice president of the Association of Basketball Coaches (Ageb), recently accredited by FebaChile, which “was born from the need to create a representative body, from LNB coaches to monitors who work in schools, workshops, IND” . To join, they ask for one year of experience and not be prevented from working with minors. On the other hand, they have not defined guidelines with Adebach, the other association of coaches.
Considering his experience in the most successful years of Mexican basketball, Robert has ideas of how Chile can progress. “We have to think about two or three Olympic cycles, so that in the fourth the project is already consolidated,” says Lagos, based on the growth of Spain since the 1992 Olympics.
Also value the national product: “Have our own identity. We see a Messi or Ginobili and we want to be like them. Why don’t we see an Ignacio Arroyo who is in Madrid? Sebastian Herrera? Why don’t we see them as idols?
Robert Lagos’ international experience allows him to speak. A decade making a career outside of Chile. And although he is far from the field, he does not deny that he would say “of course” before any opportunity. After all, basketball calls him. And the Pioneer draws his conclusion: “The only Chilean coach working at that international level in the last 20 years.”