LG: It’s very important that a player has his level. You have to analyse each player, but the top level here is not the top level in Europe. If there is a player here who can go to Spain, the situation is here is perfect, for progress, but there is one problem only, it’s the competition. If this player is very good and he is the best for this level of competition, he will not progress. For me its very important not only to practice each day but the competition is very important too. When you play competition at a good level, you progress. You can do the things you learn in practice.
But there is not one rule, it depends on the player. At the moment, the player has to go, but it is possible, with the potential here, if everyone wants this, if you progress the competition, its possible the players won’t need to go to other countries to progress. But the problem is not Barking Abbey, the problem is the competition. At the moment, if the competition is a lower level than the player, the player needs to go abroad. Its very important to do a proper analysis of the player and decide where he should go.
If the club is Barcelona, Real Madrid, it’s a big club and he might not have the space to progress. You need to choose very well, where the player goes. Here the staff, Mark [Clark], Lloyd [Gardner], they analyse this very well, to choose the best option for the players. Because here the other option is to go to the USA.
RS: Right, because I think that is still the aspiration for a lot of kids here. The culture, the language, they see it as the best route for them…
LG: And that is perfect for those players. Why? Because at sometimes, in Spain, some players between 18 and 21 years old don’t play in any team, they are on the bench and don’t play. It’s a good option between 18 and 21 to go the NCAA, you play a lot of minutes, if you’re not from England, you can learn better English, and you study. When you’re 21, you’ve practised with and played with a good standard of player, you have a degree and you have learned a language.
I think its a very good option. Here, the language is the same and its easy for the players to continue their studying. It’s very difficult to live off of basketball, only one player might go on to earn a million in a year. I mean live like real living. For this, the academy programme is good, its very important to study. For me, this is very good, I love this programme.
RS: Switching to Spain, you mentioned it earlier, there are obviously economic problems in Spain, teams going bankrupt, Alicante having to drop down to LEB Oro, Gran Canaria have had problems, Girona a few years ago. How do you see the state of the game in Spain right now?
LG: I think all people in Spain at this moment must stop, and look at the situation. At this moment, ACB must look at all the teams, right now it’s 18 teams but two teams could not start this year in the competition, and other teams stayed up, Estudiantes and Canarias, and so on. Half the teams have problems in paying players. In the second division, it’s only 14 teams this year, the third division only 11.
Everyone in Spain must stop and look at the situation, and look at what is the best direction. I don’t know what that is. But at the moment you must look at the economy, look at the country, and now we must look for a new direction. I don’t know what it is, but I think we need a change. It’s not normal that only a few fans see the games on TV. All the people who love basketball, the federation, ACB, we must look at this and say which direction to go. Because this is a new situation, this economy, for Spain, it won’t stop this year, it will go on for three, four, five years, it is necessary to change something.
RS: There is a lot of money in basketball right now in Russia, in Turkey, and you mentioned you came over here in order to learn English, to make yourself perhaps more attractive to teams in new countries. Do you have ambitions to coach at a big club team outside of Spain?
LG: Yes, I think this is now the new reality. New direction for the teams and new direction for the coaches as well. Before, you could live as a coach in Spain in the first division, second division and third division. There were a lot of opportunities in Spain with basketball. But now, it is very difficult. Only ACB, and not much more, at the moment.
For this, I came here to learn English and because I think this is the future for coaches. Joan Plaza went to Zalgiris, the coach of the national senior women’s team, Lucas Mondelo, has gone to China, Chus Mateo at the moment is in China. A lot of other coaches go to South America, to Ukraine, Russia, Jenaro Diaz is at Khimki [as a scout].
For me, it’s a very good option, for different things. I like to know a new basketball, a different structure, a different country. I think its very good for my family, to go to another country, its good for my children, its a new experience. It’s good for basketball and good for life, I think Spanish coaches must have an open mind, at the moment, to all things.