“I’m not worried about the contract, now I’m dedicated to enjoying myself”

Experience is a degree. But at 75, it’s much more than that. After almost half a century of coaching (he started in 1973 at the Círcol Catòlic), the Madrid coach is clear about his priorities and is delighted to be the leader on the bench of Marc Gasol’s project at the ACB.

What has Aíto come to Girona to do?

Well, train a basketball team called Básquet Girona (laughs).

He has managed more than 1,000 matches in the ACB. What is left to do?

What remains for me is to continue enjoying the day to day. History has its importance, but the present is even more so.

We still don’t know how long he has signed…

I’m not worried at all. I used to look at it more in this sense because having a long contract was a bit like the guarantee of not having to wait for the results every day, but now I don’t worry about this issue at all. So I directly dedicate myself to enjoying training.

So has he come for one more season whatever comes up?

That would be it.

What did Marc Gasol suggest to him to accept the challenge?

I didn’t speak to him, but first the sporting director (Jordi Plà) contacted me and offered me what I think is always offered to a coach when you want to sign him: the possibility of working with the team. I’m delighted, that’s why I came.

Next Wednesday Girona will return to the ACB fourteen years later. You coached Penya in Akasvayu’s last ACB game in Fontajau in 2008. Is Girona’s basketball tradition an incentive or an imposition?

I think it’s an incentive. Not only for us, but also for the audience. Fortunately it seems that the fans have responded very well by subscribing. Hopefully they can enjoy themselves in Fontajau and continue to support the team from start to finish.

What is the first memory that comes to mind of Fontajau?

The time when Pedro Martínez was coaching and the team included San Emeterio, Marc Gasol, Víctor Sada… (Akasvayu). Marc took a spectacular leap, becoming a very good player to leave after many years in the NBA.

Will the rivals see Girona only as newly promoted, or the fact that you, Marc Gasol are there or that the city has tradition are reasons to instill respect?

Everything he comments always influences a little, but maybe more so for the media. We are names that we have been working on for some time and it seems easier than if I were simply called García or Marc without the last name Gasol. There must be work anyway and the most important thing will be that we work well, enjoying what we do.

After leaving Germany, he took a sabbatical and ended up at Joventut doing technical training for young people. Did you miss elite basketball?

No, because it is true that I entered the youth team, but I also saw a lot of basketball. I have always seen Euroleague and Eurocup, but I saw much less of ACB in the four years I was in Germany. This year I’ve grown up watching matches on TV.

Girona also has a young squad with experienced players.

There is a mix of inexperienced youngsters and very experienced veterans, but everyone can always learn. They complement each other.

How have the players of today changed compared to those of 20 or 30 years ago?

All the teams defend better, they are taller, stronger, there is more activity. If you step back and look at it as it was 40 or 50 years ago…, you realize it was a different type of basketball. Many things have gone for the better and some for the worse. Basketball in general is challenged to be better at everything.

Now the obsession is to shoot and shoot three…

Yes. It seems that everything ends with shooting threes, one-on-ones and direct blocks, but I think we can complement it with the interior game, the fast game and make our basketball more and more spectacular.

And Marc Gasol? He led him in 2008 to the Spanish national team after having made a career in the NBA… What role should he have in the team beyond the joke he made in the presentation saying that if he didn’t train well he would stay on the bench?

It wasn’t a joke, it’s the truth (laughs). Those who train and play well will play here. I know Marc from before, when he was a cadet at Barcelona, ​​but then, when I had him in Beijing, he was already a very intelligent player. It continues to be.

Are you satisfied with the pre-season?

Not entirely, the casualties have conditioned us. There are many players who have just rejoined and it is difficult to train at two speeds. While some know things, others are just starting to learn them. It has made it a bit difficult for us, but I hope that when the injuries are over – hopefully soon – we can progress at a similar pace.

Will he be able to have the whole team against Real Madrid?

We are still waiting for the players we can bring back.

How can layoffs affect them?

We don’t have to think about it so much, but we have to work as best we can with what we have at the moment.

The team has 12 signings, are you expecting any more signings? Is Pierre Oriola ruled out?

In principle, we have what we have. We will see in the future and in the day to day if we need reinforcements.

What would stand out beyond the unexpected victory of Spain in the Eurobasket?

If I have to say something negative it is that there are too many teams and too many seats, some of which did not have any kind of basketball atmosphere. Fortunately, the final phase was good because in Berlin the public enjoyed it and so did the teams. Both Germany and Spain played in a very spectacular way in terms of playing as a team with all the players together and with a very good concentration. We enjoyed watching them.

Is this the spirit that Girona will have to have against Madrid?

Not only against Madrid, this spirit must be had every day. We have to work on it constantly, not only the coaches with the players but the players with each other. we are doing it atstage from Calonge.

Is it about having confidence?

Trust, mutual understanding and communication among all. At the moment I am happy, but I also know that now there are more difficulties because there were many players who were not there. Some will play more, others less… All this is not so easy to accept. We will work to be a team in all its dimensions.

The season is very long and every player will have their moment.

Yes. Its time of form yes, but the most important thing is that everyone collaborates to the extent of their possibilities at each moment.

do you like football This season in Girona we have everything: First Division, ACB, Women’s League…

The truth is that I don’t follow football very much. When I was at Barça I did watch him a little more during Cruyff’s time, also Guardiola’s… I’m not much of a football fan because I don’t have time. It is impossible for me to engage in other sports because there are almost 1,000 basketball games a day. And I never disconnect from basketball.



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