By John Rammas/ [email protected]
Back in November 2021, the roster of the Spanish national team in the first FIBA World Cup qualifiers games, commonly known as “Windows” was the following:
Jaime Pradilla, Xabi Lopez-Arostegui, Jaime Fernandez, Dario Brizuela, Alberto Diaz, Quino Colom, Dani Diez, Joan Sastre, Yankuba Sima, Fran Guerra, Joel Parra, Dani Perez.
Fast forward to the Eurobasket 2022 final.
Pradilla, Lopez-Arostequi, Jaime Fernandez, Brizuela, Diaz, Parra, plus Sebastian Saiz, who also played in the qualifiers, will walk out from the Eurobasket with a medal. During last season, they were neither EuroLeague nor NBA players, but they are key parts of the Spanish national team.
Joust hours before the final, Eurohoops had the pleasure to talk to Sergio Scariolo, who is the right man to explain not only what’s the Spanish formula, but also how the FIBA Windows can be used for the benefit of a national team program.
And as he clearly states, he fully understands that his experience as the head coach of the Spanish national team might be different from the challenges other national team programs face and that’s why he prefers to stay on the Spanish facts: “My forward is that I am not judging the overall concept of the windows. There are many different angles, there are many different standpoints, all of them respectable. So I am just telling the facts, about what we did back in 2017 because we have many players in the NBA and many players in the EuroLeague. Immediately we got the feeling that our best 12-14 players will not be available for this competition, for this qualification, and that at the same time we have to do something to prepare. So what we did was bring together a group of players, even if most of them were not even going to participate in the following training camp with the team that won the bronze medal in the European championship in Istanbul”.
Spain and Scariolo didn’t hesitate to create a second team, which will be totally linked to the main roster: “We would bring them early during summer, we had a 10-day training camp and a couple of official games against Israel. We created a “B-Team” where we wanted to make sure about basically putting some things first. They were starting to work on the concepts that he had in work already with the U20 team, which was the first team we started our – let’s say – little revolution in the youth categories. Those players had already that experience before plus a group of players who are considered “middle-class”, who are not predictably going to participate in any NBA or EuroLeague activity. And we put them together while we were trying to be very efficient. It was not only basketball-related, but it was more about the values and the morale of the team. We said to them: “Guys you are going to be Spain, you are going to be the main team, the guys who will wear the jersey which is one of the most admired and even envied in the world of basketball”. So that’s an honor, that’s a privileged itself. Basically, we made them feel that they were “the guys” and not promising absolutely anything in terms of what was going to happen at the end of the summer but trying to make the participation in these national team games a value itself and it actually worked”.