SITO ALONSO, COACH OF MOMENTUM He is leading Lagun Aro GBC to walk the most exciting path not only of its history but of the ACB season
In physics, the linear or translational 'momentum' is the product of the mass and velocity of an object. Adapting that law of the classical mechanics to basketball, we could translate the 'momentum' as the product of the players of a team and its velocity on the court. Thinking to what happened in the last 9 games of the ACB League, no doubts that Sito Alonso is the head coach of the 'momentum' and Lagun Aro GBC is the team who is running faster than everyone else. They won 8 games losing only in Barcelona, and they climbed the ACB ranking from the 18th to the 6th place, reaching the historical qualification to the 'Copa del Rey'. But there is something more than results: if you look to Lagun Aro GBC, you will immediately will be impressed by the way its players play together, and once more the secret of success is the man standing courtside, just in front of the bench.
The moment of Lagun Aro is simply amazing: from 2-8 to 9-9, and from the bottom of the ranking to the 6th place How can you describe it from inside? ' We have believed in ourselves since the first day and all along the season. We started with bad results, but except the first two games the team always showed good feeling. Then, after losing in Vitoria for a negative 2-8 record, we went to play on the court of Badalona, where we played a very good game, improving our defense and being able to win by 23 points. It was the beginning for getting over that moment, and since that day we won 8 games out of 9, reaching a current and incredible 10-9 record'.
In the modern basketball very often there is no time to build projects: can we say that your Club showed a great capacity to wait for the results and believe in its choices and in you? 'Yes, I had clear in my mind from the beginning where I came. Lagun Aro is a special Club, they respect the head coach if they think that he is working well with the team. And the team competed in each game, trying to help him to keep calm and work easier'.
Looking back at the beginning of the season: 4 losses by three points (1 in overtime), 1 by four, and most of all every time with the team fighting until the end From outside, it seemed the demonstration that it was simply a question of time... 'We suffered bad moments, especially after the loss against Estudiantes. We were leading by 17 points with 14 minutes to play, but they were able to recover and beat us in the latest part of the game. It was a very tough moment, but we worked harder and we tried to keep a good mentality to be competitive. Not only in that moment but all along the season, our faith has helped us to be a better team'.
How did you live all this path from inside? From the beginning until now, how did you feel the team grow up in your hands? 'I had confidence in myself, and at the same time I felt the players also had, and they wanted to understand the new philosophy and made an extra effort to improve playing in this way without resting or doubts. That was crucial to believe and compete better week after week. We started playing more aggressive and passing the ball better, but the most important thing, we started being a good team in defense'.
How much the great improvement was up to hard work and how much it was up to mentality? 'In my opinion, mentality have been the key to get over it. You can work harder than all the other teams, but you will be the best or worst team depending on your mental capacity . We still need to improve in many things, but talking about character, desire to sacrifice and fight, we have to keep all that qualities all along the season'.
What does 'Copa del Rey' mean for you and Lagun Aro? Is it a kind of dream come true, or the right satisfaction for your amazing recovery? 'It is very difficult to explain my feeling. Lagun Aro didn't reach the Final Eight of 'Copa del Rey' in last two years, and this season we started badly but we reached it. We perfectly know that this is a historical and amazing dream, but at the same time we got it and we will be part of the 'Copa del Rey': so now we have to prepare our next game before going there and play against Valencia, trying to enjoy but also thinking to win. We can't go there to lose without competing, and most of all we want to show to all people our character. And to do it we need to keep those important things we did to arrive there'.
How much is difficult now to make the team keep the feet on the ground and which is the best way to do it? 'I am sure that our players know the truth: we can't compete without following our basic rules. They are: to work more than the others, to play with our rhythm, to fight more than everybody else and to respect the opponents but just for that reason to compete against them harder'.
Which is the objective of the Club for the season? And what about the project for the future? 'We have a common objective: to become a better team stepwise, without thinking to results, neither past nor future. We have to be focused to work on the present, knowing that we can decide it. Our main objective is to be competitive'.
The team always showed to be able to play very good together, with some fantastic performance by some individual players, like Panko and Baron. Is this right and where do you have to improve the most? 'We have learnt we can't play individually, we need to be a team. Maybe we are not the best team, if we look to our players one by one. However, when we play together running, defending, passing the ball, and believing in everybody, we are more dangerous. We have good players, but we know we have a better team'.
Personally, what about the feeling to be back to coach in ACB and the way you are living this season? 'I have been given basketball speeches, practicing with young players, studying the ACB and European Leagues to be ready to come back. I have been lucky to return to the ACB League. I know the level of the competition is very high, and I am enjoying a lot competing with the best coaches and teams. I have only one way this year: take advantage of everything to become a better coach and to build a good project'.
Everything he said look so clear that you could make the mistake to think that, at the end, to do what Lagun Aro is doing can be simple. In truth, this is because the 'momentum' of Sito Alonso is not limited to the last two months, but includes both his life and basketball career as well in one only thing. It happens, when you start coaching at 11, and since that day you will never stop 'breathing' basketball for one single day. It happens, when you grew up as a coach in the 'cantera' of Joventut Badalona, working day by day to forge young talents with Aito as a mentor, and launching Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez to see them become champions in the ACB and finally fly to the NBA. It happens, when a new Club ask you not to work for immediate results, but to build something for the future, understanding that this is the real key to be successful. It all happened to Sito Alonso, the head coach of Lagun Aro GBC. They own the most exciting 'momentum' of this basketball season.
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