Sergio Scariolo, Head Coach of the Spanish National Team speaks to Future Stars after the Olympic Final against Team USA in which his team came agonisingly close to the gold medal.
FS: What is your assessment of the final? It was an unbelievable game, It looked like you took away all weapons from America in until the third quarter apart from Kevin Durant who kept them in the game to outlast you, what was your assessment of this game?
SS: When you have to face a team like the USA to have to be able to slow down their athleticism and their three point shooters which was a big factor of the their success this year. I think we did this in the first part of the game as we kept them pretty much away from the basket and didn’t allow them to overpower us in their penetration and explosive drives to the basket. Of course you can’t take away everything, we gave up a little bit of the three point shot, we contested a lot of the shots, but a few of them were simply undefendable, especially Kevin Durant who releases the ball so high, it’s really hard to contest those shots.
FS: In the third quarter you established quite a solid advantage inside, when Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka seemed to score quite easily. How important part of your overall strategy was it to go inside and explore their lack of height and your advantage of inside players?
SS: We knew that offensively we had to try to bring the ball into the paint as much as possible, and I think that we did that really well. But I think that the real difference was that our perimeter was effective and our three point shots went in more consistently than in the first part of the tournament. When you hit the three point shot there is more space for the inside players as well.
FS: Navarro helped you immensely in the first part of the game scoring 19 points in the first half, the Americans spent so much time covering him in the second half that must of also created a lot of space inside?
SS: Unfortunately his physical conditioning after the injury is not good and in the second half he ran out of gas and couldn’t help us as he did in the first half. Navarro has tremendous heart and commitment, but as everybody knows he came to this Olympic games in 50% of his physical conditioning. In the first half of the final we saw the Navarro that everybody knows and loves.
FS: How would you compare achieving second place at the Olympics with winning Eurobasket?
SS: It is tough to compare, because at Eurobasket you are the best in Europe, but to finish second in the Olympics behind USA you are still the best in Europe and the best in the world except for the USA. They are both great accomplishments and great occasions. I wouldn’t compare them, we worked very hard for both.
FS: Last question, you are double European Champions and Olympic Silver medallist, what else do you have to prove? Are you staying with this team or do you have nothing else left to achieve?
SS: I don’t know right now, it’s not the right time to think about this. Right now I want to spend time with my family. The Spanish federation have already showed their appreciation and desire to continue a cooperation, The relationship between myself and the Spanish Federation has been great but it is pretty tough to coach at Euroleague level and top National team level every year. Let me breathe and rest a little bit and I will make a decision in the next few weeks.
Photographs courtesy of FIBA Europe and FIBA