By Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA International
Spain coach Txus Vidorreta has revealed his admiration for Sergio Rodriguez after the youngster made a stunning impact on the European Under-18 Championships.
Rodriguez emerged as the star attraction at the Zaragoza-staged tournament, leading Spain to the title.
The Estudiantes point guard capped off a magnificent tournament by scoring 20 points in the 89-71 victory over Turkey in the final.
"Sergio is pure fantasy," Vidorreta told PA International.
"He is a complete player, a good shooter, he possesses fantastic passing skills.+
"I have not seen a player of his age control the ball so impressively as he does."
|Rodriguez's performance in Zaragoza earned him MVP honours|
Vidorreta had no doubt that Rodriguez was deserving of his player of the tournament award, after the 192 cm prodigy averaged 19 points per game, almost nine assists and five rebounds.
"He fully merits this recognition," said Vidorreta.
"He has proved his worth, showing a lot of maturity and confidence which he has also passed on to his team-mates. Sergio is a team player.
"I have no doubt in my mind that Sergio will go far, he will be an important player in the ACB league."
The outlook for Spain is promising because Vidorreta's outfit are far from a one-man show.
"The secret of our success has been the great team spirit," said Vidorreta.
"We've enjoyed an effective rotation, a solid defence, with all the players supporting our three leaders - Rodriguez, forward Carlos Suarez and centre Jose Angel Antelo.
"We came into this tournament with great expectations, playing at home, knowing that we had the quality to reach the medals but never thinking that we could go all the way.
"We were not favourites, for Turkey, Serbia & Montenegro and France were considered the teams to beat, but we have been superior in the last three games."
Their results have drawn comparisons with the Spanish golden generation. Six years ago, Spain won the same tournament with a squad featuring a number of rising stars who have since gone on to achieve fame and fortune.
Among that squad were Pau Gasol (now with the Memphis Grizzlies), Raul Lopez (Utah Jazz), Juan Carlos Navarro (Barcelona), Jose Calderon (Tau Vitoria) and Felipe Reyes (Estudiantes).
"Both generations are the only ones to have brought the only two gold medals for Spain in the European Under-18 Championships," Vidoretta added.
"That previous generation had more top quality players than this one, but this new generation has three or four players that will make an impact as well as other players that can do well."