Starting this Friday, Malaga will experience a very special and unforgettable event. Spain, the United States and Slovenia will meet in a historical triangular and unprecedented to celebrate the Centennial Tournament of the Spanish Federation of Basketball and prepare the appointment of Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. It will be very special for all attendees, but the national coach, Sergio Scariolo.
The coach returns to his ‘home’ from 2003 to 2008 in a Palace of the sports Jose Maria Martin Carpena who lived to praise Unicaja to the four best teams in all of Europe and who now comes to lead the best team in the world, according to the FIBA ranking. He will still have to wait to reunite with the ‘green tide’, but there will be many fans who will attend this basketball party and chant the name of the coach there.
Because he has earned it, on all the Spanish tracks, but especially here. Scariolo has left a mark in Malaga that is difficult to overcome. Now he has some by his side, but there was a day when Jorge Garbajosa -now president of the FEB- and Carlos Jiménez -Team Manager of the national team- were his players to star in the golden triennium together with the Italian: the Copa del Rey achieved in Zaragoza in 2005, the Endesa League in 2006 after defeating Baskonia and the historic qualification to the Euroleague Final Four.
Since then, every time he comes he is a cause for celebration for basketball fans in Malaga. He did it for the last time in July 2021, in that friendly that faced Spain and France at Carpena as a preparation match for the Tokyo event. Since then, there are many successes to which he has raised the selection. Therefore, any fan surrenders to the coach who made history with Unicaja and who is on his way -although for many he already is- to be the best national basketball coach.
Precisely, now he faces one of the most important challenges of his professional career: the stage of transition of the national team. It already showed last September that this team is made of a different material, that it can win European gold without any big NBA star ahead of Nikola Jokic’s Serbia, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greece, Luka Doncic’s Slovenia or the France of Rudy Gobert, who reaped the silver.
Now he arrives in Malaga with other types of challenges, but also with some problems very serious: the base position. The loss of Ricky Rubio has left Spain without its main lighthouse on the track. The FEB already resolved this same thing last summer with the express nationalization of Lorenzo Brown. However, with less than 20 days to go before the World Cup and in full preparation, the solutions have to come from the call itself.
The one who is already untouchable is Alberto Díaz. The man from Unicaja from Malaga, who was already aiming to be key in the event, is right now the first sword in the direction of play. He has neither the vision nor the ability to cause spaces of his two predecessors, but for Scariolo he is untouchable in many other matters. Juan Núñez? Jaime Fernández, Sergio Llull or Alberto Abalde at ‘1’?
There are many incognitos clear after an unforeseen event of such magnitude. However, if there is someone capable of doing the impossible, it is Sergio Scariolo, the man who brought Unicaja to touch the continental sky and who is now looking, after spending time in Malaga, for the third World Cup for the team.
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