Spain Smooth Into Post-Scariolo Era

28 November 2012

EUROBASKET 2013

Spain Head Coach Sergio Scariolo
Sergio Scariolo has enjoyed similar celebrations, as those shown above, on numerous occasions as head coach of the Spanish national team

There is an emotional occasion coming up for Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) president Jose Luis Saez and Spain head coach Sergio Scariolo on Wednesday evening.

The two men will sit side by side at a press conference in a Madrid hotel and announce to the press that the Italian tactician will not be at the helm of the reigning European champions when they try to defend their title at EuroBasket 2013

Scariolo has played a big part in Spain's gold-rush era, which started at the 2006 World Championship in faraway Japan.

He took over as head coach from one of the finest Spanish coaches, Aito Garcia Reneses, after the 2008 Olympics and led 'la roja' to their first ever European crown in Poland in 2009, and their second, just two years later, at EuroBasket 2011.

On top of all the silverware - which certainly goes a long way in helping form a life-long bond - there has always been mutual appreciation. 

Scariolo famously compared the Spanish team to his native country's flagship car manufacturer, Ferrari, during EuroBasket 2009 as his way of expressing gratitude for having the privilege of coaching a group of some of the finest players in European basketball history.

From their part, the FEB stood by the play-caller when the national media placed the blame on his doorstep for Spain failing to mount anything resembling a defence of their World Championship title in Turkey, in 2010.

For all these reasons, the Wednesday evening press conference will be emotionally charged.
But there will be no earth-shattering revelations, not even minor surprises, even if the FEB president declares the Federation has already chosen Scariolo's successor and decides to announce his name on Wednesday. 

Spain coach Juan Antonio Orenga
Juan Antonio Orenga is widely considered as the most likely replacement for Scariolo

There are strong indications that the frontrunner in the succession race is Juan Antonio Orenga.
Orenga, a former Spanish international during his career as a player, grew as a coach within the federation framework. 

He took over the U20 national team in 2007, winning silver at the European Championship that same year, bronze in 2008 and gold in 2011.

The 46-year-old accompanied Scariolo as his assistant from the beginning of the Italian's tenure and was a member of the senior team's coaching staff in every competition since EuroBasket 2009.

Saez has reiterated over the last ten days that, with or without Scariolo at the helm, the Federation believe in the continuation of 'the project' of the senior national team along the same lines.

He also said that there is "nothing to break away from here, only to build upon."

In other words, the FEB aims for a transition as smooth as possible. 

On Wednesday evening we will know whether Scariolo will step down with immediate effect or if both parties will wait for their contract to run out, at the end of December.

If the former happens, then the announcement of his successor's name could very well also take place during the course of the same press conference.

We might even find out whether this is a definite good-bye or if a window will be left open for Scariolo to return in the future, or continue collaborating with the FEB in a different capacity. 

Whatever happens, will happen in velvety-soft fashion.

Just like shifting gear in a Ferrari at high speed, as Scariolo would say.


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