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Basketball in Spain’s Best Kept Secret

Basketball in Spain’s Best Kept Secret

September 10th, 2015
Arts

MATIK MEDIA ENTERPRISES MAGAZINE Interview with Armando Roberes of Spain

  It wasn’t until about summer 1992 Olympic Games  (Juegos Olimpicos de Verano de 1992),  officially known as the Games if the XXV Olympian,  where Spanish basketball witness the likes of the Original Dream Team of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson,  Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and many other teammates that thrilled the world. Some say it was the greatest team ever assembled and it was fitting to have it start in a city like Barcelona. Barcelona was the birthplace of then the International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch and the second largest city in Spain. This was the year that the basketball world started to change entirely and many other basketball rich country started to get better. In fact, the whole world placed a lot of emphasis on being the first for everything. Coincidentally, South Africa was allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time since the 1960 Games, after a long suspension for its Apartheid policy. It was fitting because South African runner Derartu Tulu won the 10 000m and ran a victory lap for his country after he won. Fast forward to 23 years later, Spanish basketball has gained the respect of everyone in the basketball world for producing Championship teams, developing players to be a global athlete by competing in the NBA the kind of superstars they once dreamed of playing against and produce some of the most dynamic coaches in the last decade.  Matik Media Enterprises Magazine is proud to sit down with Armando Roberes from Galicia Spain. Mr. Roberes has collaborated with Matik Media Enterprises Magazine for over 20 years, and we have valued his opinion and techniques in the way he teaches the fundamentals to his players. We welcome Armando Roberes from Spain.

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MM: How are you  doing Armando? It’s been a long time my friend. Por fin estoy aqui conmigo para hablar.

AR: Fine, everything is normal and starting a new week. Pleasure to talk to you. Todo bien, nueva semana y una pleasure para hablar contigo.

MM: It’s been a long time my friend since 2004 the last time in Ferrol Spain, that year our team went 14 weeks undefeated and almost made history. What have you been up too since then?

AR: Well, I have been coaching my young talented players here in Spain. I want to tell you that season with you was a milestone in my career when we competed. I miss those explosive players like yourself, Eric Johnson, Tony Smith and Aaron Swinson. I personally learned a lot by looking into players eyes and see who is ready to go beyond expectation and win basketball games.

Picture of Spain Championship.

MM: You have been a coach for 26 years now coaching many different superstars of this time. Who are some of the International players that you coached that people can identify with now?

AR: When I was 16 years old and I was a player, I knew that my destiny was to become a coach. My 16th year I won everything and that’s when I started and I had it in me to teach. I’m coaching some players now but because of a confidentiality agreement I have with their parents I am not permitted to mention.

MM: The emergence of the Gasol brothers Mark and Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Josè Calderón with many others. Can you share with us the Spanish secret for developing those kinds of superstars in years past?

AR: Apart from them being a special generation. That group of players were apart of coming together collectively like a real team. They had no jealousy, no ulterior motives and just joined forces together to represent our country with one purpose which was winning. It started with Pau Gasol and his individual skills and  as Pau Gasol got a lot noriety in the NBA, the rest was history.

MM: In building a Championship team what would be the 3 key factors in developing a championship team?

AR:  Good question, but for me I would have to say. First, would be culture. Getting all the players from a given area or country. Secondly, I would say education which is essentially Basketball IQ. There will be more emphasis on actually knowing things that come natural and being able to react in the games intelligently. Third, it would have to be physical. Getting athletes that can run fast, and size which you can’t deny especially in today’s game.

 

MM: Over the last 20 years I have seen the Spanish National Team maintain their rankings as a top 20 power in the basketball world and more recently have been in the top 5 in the world rankings. How will the Spanish National Team adjust when the Gasol brothers are gone and how will the next crop of players get entrenched into the swing of things?

Picture of World Champion Spain team

AR: OK, another good question. Everybody says that when the Gasol brothers retire maybe that will be it. I don’t think so because we will still have Serge Ibaka, Mark Gasol and Nikola Mirotic from Chicago Bulls NBA. We are developing our exterior players that have yet to emerge on the NBA scale. Players like Johnathan Barreiro, Luka Doncic who might become Spanish, Hernan Gomez who is 208m from Real Madrid or Abalde. Phil Jackson from New York Knicks NBA has took a liking to Hernan Gomez which is really a good player that can do everything. Exciting players to watch out for in the next little while.

MM: Right now on the ACB which is Spain best basketball league and arguably the second best league outside of the NBA. How has the economical problems in Europe affected the ACB and how can Spain solve these problems?

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AR:  Spain, have been going through economical problems like many countries in Europe but our league is still going. Some of our young National players are doing the noble thing in staying in Spain but some American players, usually in ACB, have opted to go to Russia, Italy or even Germany. I guess things will change and go back to how it was once a flourishing nation economically.

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MM: In your opinion, who would you say are the top 5 coaches in Spain right now? 

AR: Well this is just my opinion and no disrespect to anyone because in Spain there are some tremendous coaches in the lower leagues in LEB that have not had their chance yet but I will begin with number one.
Aito Garcia Reneses, he is the teacher of all coaches and he has demonstrated very well for a long time. Secondly, I would say Pedro Martinez who coaches in Valencia right now. Pamesa where you once played. Third, I would say Sito Alonso who coaches in Bilbao. Sito was the assistant to Aito Reneses. Forth, I would say Pablo Laso.  He is Mr. Everything. He won the Euro League and the ACB Championship. Most coaches don’t like to show weaknesses but he like to push the ball and his style is like “showtime”.
Lastly, I like Xavi Pornsarnau. If he gets a chance with a big team they would be very happy because he is an excellent teacher.

MM: Are there any potential superstars that are on the verge of having a breakout season or we might see in the Olympics in Brazil?
AR: Yes of course.  Alex Abrines who plays for Barcelona, is a very talented player, he dunks and is an amazing shooter.
Juancho and Willy Hernan Gomez from Estudiantes and Real Madrid who are very skilled players. Santiago Yusta who is a very promising player. A 3 man that can rebound, shoot, and who is very complete. He reminds me of Carlos Jimenez which was one of the greatest players in Spanish Basketball history.

MM: You have strong affiliations with a basketball Agency that you helped started and collaborate with many Spanish teams and teams throughout Europe. Can you tell us some of the players you represent, including the coaches?

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AR: Well the agency’s name is called Orange Ball Dreams Agency. In regards to our players we will respect their privacy but I can share with you that we represent another great Coach in Sergio Valdeomillos the Head Coach of the Mexican National Team. He has uplifted the Mexican program and has all support of his players. Every year we get really good offers for Sergio Valdeomillos but he is loyal and very happy coaching the Mexican National Team.

MM: The NBA has been slowly progressing to the International rules and style of play in some regards. Do you think that the NBA will change their rules in the next 10 years in accordance with FIBA?
AR: Well the NBA is NBA. It’s probably the best organization in sports today and they reach their players to behave in front of the camera professionally because they are essentially mirrors to the people and their sponsors. In the NBA they has a lot of space to maneuver and 2 man game with a lot of emphasis on 1 on 1 plays. In the European way of things you have help before the play arrive to one particular spot to the other before the plays actually develops.

MM: Can you tell me in your opinion who is the best top 5 Spanish players of all time?
AR: Well without a doubt my number one would be Pau Gasol. Second, Juan Carlos Navarro. Third, Marc Gasol. Forth, Felipe Reyes. Fifth, and certainly not least Alberto Herreros. Herreros for me was the best ACB scorer and possibly could of had a great NBA career. You played against him many times and I’m sure you are good friends.

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MM: Absolutely, I have much respect for him for what he did for his country and who he is as a person. Great guy.

AR: It’s just my opinion.

MM: This question is coming from the heart as always because you know I speak fluent Spanish which I rarely get a chance to practice and you know I have embraced the Spanish culture 100%. Has the situation for foreign players changed and are there still conservatives that don’t want to see 2 spots reserved for foreign players?
AR: Listen, the question still remains the same. We have American players that have changed their nationality and have become Spanish by law in regards to their wives or who can change their passport to a European passport if they have established residency for an extended period of time. Players like you for example Martin had the physical ability to play in the NBA for sure and you had a very serious injury and you adapted without any excuses. You could of been Spanish if you wanted too but you choose to go back to Canada and we remember your loyalty for this. Now there is not so much emphasis on foreign players but we continue as such. Foreign players bring a dynamic to the league which is good for everyone.

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MM:  I remember my good friend Mr. Bueno was the President of the Players Association before. Who is the President now?
AR: You won’t believe it but it’s your friend Alfonso Reyes who is the older brother of Felipe Reyes who is doing a good job. He is trying to improve the life of players after their basketball career. Maybe they might have it like the NBA and give pension for them, this is really good.

MM: We have almost come to an end with this delightful interview.  Is there anything that you would like to say or people that you would like to recognize that have helped you along your journey into being the dynamic coach that you are today?

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AR: Yes absolutely. I would like to say thanks to my family and friends because without them in my life or without their love, this wouldn’t be possible.  I would like to give 100% appreciation to Ivan Villar, who is my first Agent and has been very supportive. He was a great influence for me as a Coach and has encouraged me to broaden my scope internationally as a Coach. Lastly, to all my players who is like an extension of my family. The support I had from Martin Keane and Eric Johnson especially in that pivotal year 2004 was special.  It was that year in 2004 that I started to be a true professional and cherish all those wins in that particular year because it was very special to me.

Spanish team in unity picture

MM: Well I thank you Armando. It never occurred to me until now but I am forever grateful that we had made an impact on so many people’s lives back then and even today.  I have always said that the Spanish coaches are superior in development than any other country and I have used my experiences from that as a blueprint for the way I coach today. So thank you my brother for being so graceful and when Matik Media Enterprises Magazine gets back to Spain shortly we will have to sit together and re-live those magic moments. Hasta pronto y un abrazo. 

AR: Igualmente tio y una abrazo.

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 Well there you have it, Spain’s best kept secret with an array of capable coaches that can step into virtually any program and develop a nucleus into something special. Matik Media Enterprise Magazine is proud to add another strong and solid member to the Matik Media Enterprise Magazine world family. Armando Roberes has been coaching in Spain for a quarter century and has been a strong influence in the basketball community in Spain. Helping produce notable superstars that are active in Europe and in Spain. Evidently speaking, Spain has time and time again proven to the world, in World Championships, Euro Liga Championships and in the NBA that they are a force to be reckoned with and will stay in the Top 5 World rankings in basketball. Spain’s prominence took long term planning, a solid system in the grassroots teachings, and also developing coaches that went beyond X’s and O’s to bring the best out of their players. One glaring fact is that when the Spanish National Basketball team comes together, the Spanish team is in unison together and has one focus is mind…winning! Everyone in the Matik Media Enterprise Magazines family is especially proud of learning from Champions and feed off the positive energy of Champions. Weather its Golf, Track & Field, Hockey, Soccer, and of course Basketball the objective is the same. You have to have a mind set getting on to the court, putting on your shoes, or listening to your coach give you a last minute preparation talk but one thing is clear, you have got to focus. The 10 000 hour rule is universal and it doesn’t matter which country you live, if you are a professional or an amatuer, you have got to practice. Practice, yes practice. If you put the hard earned hours in whatever you do, you will be successful. This is what Matik Media Enterprise Magazine teaches all the youth that are spending countless hours after school, in their backyards and within their leagues they are affiliated too. You must do your homework by practicing, because if you do the necessary things to become good, you will exceed expectation and become great. Armando Roberes is a coach to be that cares and is willing to spend the time in order to motivate and properly develop his athlete in preparing them for the grand stage. Matik Media Enterprise Magazine would love to continue this interview with Armando Roberes and wish him well in his future endeavors.

 

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