Natxo Lezkano explains the reasons for his departure from the OCB: “To continue in Oviedo I needed a solid project in the short and medium term”

The problems began for Unicaja Banco Oviedo Baloncesto before the play-off for promotion to the ACB and continue after Zunder Palencia left them out of the fight for access to the highest category. Before, the carbayones learned that Unicaja will cease to be their main sponsor as of June 30 and then, last Saturday, that their coach, Natxo Lezkano, was not going to renew.

The Basque coach (Portugalete, Vizcaya, 1972) has made the decision after verifying the difficulties of the Asturian club to develop a future project that would give him guarantees to, at least, compete with the best of the LEB Oro. The experience and the good The results that Lezkano has obtained throughout his career make him a highly valued coach, who is now studying important offers, such as that of Andorra, a team recently relegated from the ACB in which he could join next season. At the moment, Lezkano is taking a break in Bilbao before announcing what his future will be and facing another of the challenges he has this summer, such as qualifying for the Basketball World Cup for the team he leads, Ivory Coast.

– Has it been difficult for you to make the decision to leave the OCB?

–It has been a difficult decision, the club is going through a difficult moment right now; I had to make this decision, but it has not been easy.

Natxo Lezkano, with McDonnell. MIKI LOPEZ

What had to have happened for him to continue?

-That the club had a solid sports project in the short or medium term. I’m not talking about promotion, but at least to grow hand in hand. That is a bit what makes me sad, it is something that could have happened when I arrived but that, due to circumstances, has not been possible now.

-In his farewell letter he said that he is leaving sad. Why?

-They have been two very good years on a personal and sporting level, in which I have forged very good personal relationships. The club has very good workers, personally and professionally, and we were working very well together. And, outside the sports field, a bit the same. When you are content and happy in a place, it hurts to leave.

On top of that, in sports, Oviedo Baloncesto does things very well and it is paradoxical that, by doing things well, nothing happens and their situation improves

-He also warns that “it would be a tragedy” if the OCB stopped doing “the work it is doing” due to a lack of support.

– It is a tragedy. The club works well, it has a solid structure, a quarry with boys and girls, fathers and mothers, a lot of people behind it; It is something necessary for Oviedo, it is a benchmark in the city in many aspects and right now it is going through a complicated situation and needs urgent support. On top of that, in sports he does things very well. It is paradoxical that, doing things well, nothing happens and your situation improves. What has happened is something anomalous, the level that has been reached in sports does not reflect the reality of the club.

Natxo Lezkano shouts during a Oviedo Basketball match IRMA COLLIN

– Do you contemplate the possibility of returning to Oviedo Basketball one day?

-Never rule anything out. Personal relations with the people in the club are very good. Also, I like the city, the club and what is being done. Maybe one day we can meet again.

– Have the difficulties you have had at the OCB been a challenge for you?

–It has been a challenge to have an idea and transform it to adapt to the situation, change everything on the run. The first year we had to make a team with many risky players and the second we didn’t even have that possibility of signing risky players. We have had to reinvent ourselves, to adapt, to be constantly on alert, in constant evolution; It has been a constant challenge and, between all of us, because this is not just something for the coach, we have managed to make both seasons good.

The first year we had to make a team with many risky players and the second we didn’t even have that possibility of signing risky players


– Do you consider that these have been two of your best seasons?

-Each of the seasons has had its challenges, in some it was to save you and in others to be on top. What they have been is very demanding physically and mentally.

–Have you ever had so many problems to make the template?

-Rarely. I received many noes from many players with experience in the League and even from ‘rookies’ who told us no without having other offers. This year has been especially difficult because we couldn’t even finish putting together the squad, we were never able to sign the American point guard we were looking for, for example.

Héctor Galán and Natxo Lezkano in training in Palencia before the second play-off match MIKI LOPEZ

–What has been the most difficult moment at Oviedo Basketball?

–Perhaps the first year we thought we could have a certain budget and then we collided with a reality in which that budget was greatly reduced. This year Harald Frey’s departure was also a big blow for everyone.

I received many noes from many players with experience in the League and even from ‘rookies’ who told us no without having other offers


-And the best?

–Perhaps the response of the public always, especially in difficult moments. The public of Oviedo is a joy. I am very sorry that much of last season they could not enjoy the team. That, beyond the sporting successes, is what I take with me.

– Are you proud of the evolution that some of your players have had during their time in the team?

–One of the most rewarding things about training is that, seeing young and not-so-young players evolve. An example of that is Oliver Arteaga, who continues to be very important in this League. I leave happy and proud of the work, which has not only been mine, there is the rest of the coaching staff, doctors, physios and all the people who work at the club. But yes, that aspect is one of the most rewarding there is.

–Will we see him again in Pumarín?

I will return whenever I can to Oviedo. I have a lot of friends there. I already went on vacation to Asturias before and this summer I will go there again.



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