RS: That brings us on to the next question. There has been a big debate in European basketball in recent years about making the game more marketable, more popular. The court has changed, the three point line has moved, the painted area has changed, it looks more like the NBA court. Coaches like Aito Garcia-Reneses have put forward more radical proposals like being more lenient with travelling or calling more unsportsmanlike fouls to speed the game up, perhaps make it less traditional. What do you think about this?
LG: My opinion is this: in our sport, we have the same dimensions as a hundred years ago, but now it is not the same sport. Now it is more athletic, its possible for a player to be 2.10m and to dribble the ball. The players have made physical progress, and I think players need more space to play. Why? Because you have more space, it’s more spectacular. More fun for the fans. Basketball is a business and you need to sell this business. It’s a good spectacle, better for the TV, better for the sponsors, better for the media, because the fans love this. I think at the moment the new rules are OK but the court needs to be wider.
RS: Right, which Euroleague suggested a few weeks ago, because players are stepping out of bounds shooting threes…
LG: Exactly. You’re standing in the corner, you move one leg, you’re out of bounds. You need more space for players, now it’s possible that the playmaker is two metres tall, and always seven or eight players on the court will be two metres or more. Years ago, that was not possible but now it is, and we must progress in this, I think its good for basketball.
RS: That brings us on to your influences. Who has been your biggest influence as a coach, and who has most influenced your philosophy of basketball?
LG: My philosophy of basketball is that the most important thing is the players. Not the coach. This is a difficult question but the most important thing is the players. My philosophy is similar to the philosophy of the Spanish federation. Why? Each year they have different players. Its possible one generation has three or four very good playmakers. The question is, play one playmaker, or play two at the same time and then the best players are playing.
I look at my players and I construct the same depending on the players. Depending on the players, I like good defense and I like good, quick transition. Not just the fast break, but good transition and decision making by the players. The players take the decision, its very important that the players like this and the players progress.
RS: So you don’t want your playmaker bringing the ball up, looking over to you while you call a play, you want players to make the decision for themselves. A coach using this philosophy very successfully at the moment is Pablo Laso at Real Madrid…
LG: Yes, but sometimes you can know, the players you have, do not have a lot of talent, and you can’t play like this. I think that Obradovic, when he won Euroleague with Sabonis, Arlauckas and three ‘worker’ players, the other players were only ‘workers’, he won the Euroleague and his teams scored 50 points only, sometimes.
So my philosophy is this: running, decision making, I like this but it depends on the players. Sometimes you can not play like this. You must have talent. If you don’t have this it’s very difficult. At the moment, Real Madrid has very good players, a good construction of the team. All players can play like this, Sergio Rodriguez, Sergio Llull, Carroll, Rudy Fernandez, all these players have a lot of talent and you can play like this.
The first condition is the players. But I would wish to always play a similar philosophy to Pablo Laso, I like this. I played like this in Fuenlabrada, the team had the lowest money, and the third or fourth best offence in the league, but I had talent. Brad Oleson, Kris Valters, Saul Blanco, Leo Mainoldi. But one year ago in the national team, under-20s, with not the same amount of talent, we had a better defense but a not so good offence, we took third position. But it was necessary. If the team is not so good, in those moments, I need defense to win.