“Receiving the call from Scariolo and being summoned at the last minute gave me extra motivation”

There are many, if not all, the names that made it possible for Spain to become the improbable champion of the Eurobasket held last September. From the confirmation as leaders of the Hernangómez brothers to the privileged basketball of Lorenzo Brown, going through the maturity of the young Jaime Pradilla, the physique of Garuba or the bites of Jaime Fernández and Darío Brizuela. But nobody like Alberto Díaz (Málaga, 27 years old) to exemplify the greatness contained in the title won by Scariolo’s men. The Andalusian, who arrived at the Spanish concentration in early August limping from an injury, was one of the Italian’s first discards. However, after Sergio Llull was injured a few days before his Eurobasket debut, the coach was clear about it. In a few days, Díaz exchanged his sofa in his Malaga apartment for his debut in his first major tournament with Spain. The base became an insurmountable padlock for the great stars of the tournament and his participation is already basketball history. With great modesty and joy, the man from Malaga reviews past success and future challenges with ABC. Q-Does becoming European champion change your life a lot? R-No, it doesn’t change much. A little in the media section, but little more. It is something that remains for you, for your life, an unforgettable experience, but life goes on. Q-How was the call in which Scariolo told you that he was returning to the national team after Llull’s injury? R-It’s a few hours of many nerves. I get the call and they tell me that there is a possibility that I will rejoin the concentration. All the alarms go off, a lot of nerves, uncertainty and the tension of whether you are going to go or in the end everything will come to nothing. But hey, it was such a short space that I didn’t have time to think about it too much. Before I knew it, I was already in Georgia. Q- Did this last minute change motivate you even more when playing? R-It always motivates you to play your first Eurobasket. Like it or not, it makes you value being there, enjoy it. But yes, of course receiving the call at the last minute gave me extra strength to face the competition and took the pressure off me when it came to playing. Q-Are you aware that the attacking free kicks you took in matches have become a cult object for the fans? R-(Laughs). It is an action that has a very important value in basketball. If in the end it helps to make them look like a very useful tool, then welcome. Q-How do you build a good defender in basketball? R-It’s trying hard, making an effort every day, trying not to get beaten by your rival… It’s not touching a key, it’s the result of a lot of work and giving everything for many years. Q-Do you have any reference, any model that you have tried to imitate? R-I have not had any model, but it is true that my brother, when he played, was a great defender and I watched his movements since we were younger. Already when I signed for Málaga, I had Berni (Rodríguez) as a figure to inspire me to improve. He was a great defender. Q-Which player was the most difficult for you to defend during the Eurobasket? And in his career? R-Schroder, point guard from Germany, was the one who gave me the most trouble. He is very fast and electric with the feints and with the dribble. (In the semifinals against Spain, he had 30 points after the first three quarters. In the last quarter, when Díaz came out to stop him, he did not score another point). It takes a bit of luck. And in my career, Sergio Llull and Facundo Campazzo have been the two that have cost me the most to pursue. Related News Basketball standard Yes Nine out of nine: the perfect summer Emilio V. Escudero Berlin’s gold crowns a historic 2022 in which Spain has won a medal in all the tournaments played Q-And what moment of the tournament do you keep? A-The best moment was when we got to the locker room after eliminating Lithuania in the round of 16. We all felt liberated and realized that we could win the Eurobasket. Q- Has a weight been lifted from your shoulders by debuting in a major tournament with Spain, even more so when they have ended up being champions? R-No, socially it is true that now many more people know me, but I feel the same, my colleagues have always valued me and have trusted me. Also for the coaches. It is true that for the rest of Spain I have been a discovery, but in the world of basketball I have always felt recognized. Q-Back to normality, how about the first weeks of the season with Unicaja? R-It has been complicated, because you come from several weeks of a lot of adrenaline, of having a constant illusion in your body after winning. Two days later we have the qualifying match for the Champions League with Malaga, in which there was a lot of pressure and we had to win. It’s been a bit tiring, a lot of commitments… It’s been tough after a month and a half of a lot of tension. But it is what it is, we are professional players and this blessed madness is welcome. Q-The Champions League and the Spanish teams get along well (San Pablo Burgos, on two occasions, and Lenovo Tenerife have been the last three champions), how do they face the competition? R-We are going for everything, we have an ambitious team and we are going to try to win. Players want to get something nice. PY at the first change, they receive a whole Real Madrid this Sunday in the third day of the ACB, how do you face a match like this? R-Well, a very complicated game. We know that it is one of the best teams in Europe, that they always choose to win everything. We will have to play a perfect game but you never know, in basketball and sports you never know. Related News BASKETBALL / EUROBASKET standard Yes The wonderful journey of Platanito and his friends Emilio V. Escudero Alberto Díaz, unexpected hero of the team, is the perfect example of the success of the effort P-This year marks a decade since his debut at Unicaja, the your city team. Do you still maintain the illusion of wearing the colors? R-I feel the same way. For me, defending my colors and my people is a source of pride. Giving everything for my team and my city continues to be a motivation. One has more weight in the team and that is a responsibility. Every home game is a gift. Q-Your great role in the Eurobasket has put you under the media spotlight. Have you received calls in recent weeks from other teams? R-No, not at the moment. I am very calm in that sense (he has a contract with Malaga until June 2024).


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