Basketball, Family Style

10.08.2007

By Daniel Aubrey

In football in England there’s a tradition known as “Lads and Dads”, where amateur football teams are put together consisting of, as you may have guessed, kids and their fathers.

Should ever such a trend take hold in FIBA Europe competitions (unlikely, but still...) we could get a pretty good side together here at the UMCOR U18 European Championships in Madrid.

At least three players here in the tournament have fathers who were professional basketball players back in the day.

They are Sergio De La Fuente of Spain, Israel’s Sean Mcdonough Daniel, and the Italian Stefano Gentile.

FIBA Europe caught up with the happy families here in Madrid to talk to them about how it helps (or hinders) having a father who’s been where they are now and, more importantly,

Sean Mcdonough Daniel (Israel)
Sean Daniel is hoping to follow in his fathers footsteps.
who’s the daddy now!

Félix De La Fuente (aka Sergio’s dad)

De La Fuente senior was a player for a number of Spanish ACB sides such as Valladolid, Baskonia, Granada and Léon, this last team being one with which he also competed at European level.

He is remembered fondly by many fans of the Spanish game due to his undying commitment to the game as a player, and the effort that he put in for his teams.

Now he is father not only to Sergio but also to Alejandra, who plays on Spain’s U20 women’s side.

FIBA Europe: What’s it like watching your son playing here for the National Team?

Félix: It’s difficult, to be honest, because just watching you’re always thinking about what if you could get down there on the court and help out! But despite not reaching the semis this is a great team, which plays with a high level of intensity and a lot of character, and (Spanish coach) Luis Guil is doing a great job with the boys and making them all feel a part of this team.

FIBA Europe: Did you always think that he would follow in your footsteps one day?

Félix: Yeah, I guess I kind of did because he used to watch me all the time, and he’d watch every move I’d do. Then one day I noticed he’d stopped watching me now and he’d grown into a basketball player himself.

FIBA Europe: Has he grown into a better player?

Félix: Hmm, I think we’re the same in terms of drive and the effort we put into every game. But, no, without doubt he has much more quality than me. He’s a much better shooter from outside and even when getting to the rim.

FIBA Europe: You’ve set the bar pretty high for your son though wouldn’t you agree, with the great clubs you’ve played for?

Félix: No, I think to be honest it’s the league that’s setting the bar so high for these kids. Back when I was a player the clubs could only have two foreign players; two players from outside of Spain. Now they can have foreign players, EU players...and for the clubs it seems easier to put your money on a kid from outside the country than on home-grown talent. So to get into a club now for one of our kids is a bigger achievement than I ever had.

Moti Daniel (Father of Israel's Sean Daniel)

Moti Daniel played for George Washington University from 1985 to 1987 and later went on to play in three European Final Four competitions for Maccabi Tel Aviv between 1987 and 1996.

After his career at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Daniel played for Hapoel Jerusalem in 1997 where his team won the Israel Cup. He’s here in Madrid to cheer on son Sean.

FIBA Europe: Tell us about when Sean was a kid and how he got into basketball.

Moti: Well, from an early age he always used to come to my practices, he grew up in the world of basketball. He was born on the court really! He would always come to practices, watch games and be in the locker room so he just grew up with basketball all around him.

FIBA Europe: Do you train with him now or coach him in any way?

Moti: I talk to him to but I don’t coach him. I try to work with him more on the mental aspects of the game than technical or physical aspects; how to cope with pressure, how to cope in certain situations on the court, things like that.

FIBA Europe: And how do you think he compares to you as a player?

Moti: (laughing) I think he’s better than me! I mean some things are in the genes I suppose, and sometimes when I watch him I see myself on the court, you know? But he’s definitely well focussed on his game and very committed.

FIBA Europe: After games are you there with some words of advice/criticism for your son?

Moti: No, after games I don’t criticise him or point out things he did wrong, nor anything he did particularly well. What we do is always talk about what to do in the next game. The last game is in the past.

FIBA Europe: What’s it like watching him down there on the court?

Stefano Gentile (Italy)
Stefano Gentile would love to pile up half as much hardware as dear old dad.
Moti:
I’m extremely proud of him, extremely. You know, I get more excited watching him than I did as a player. Actually for me I think it’s more difficult watching him play than it was playing the games myself! When you play you just concentrate on your game, but as a spectator you’re helpless, all you can do is shout. In fact, I finish some games more exhausted than when I was a player.

Nando Gentile (Stefano’s Papi)

Nando is something of a legend in Italy, having won an Italian league title and two Italian cups as well as three Greek league titles and the EuroLeague with Panathinaikos.

He is also the proud owner of a silver medal which he picked up with the Italian National Team at EuroBasket in 1991.

Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it to Madrid to watch his son play, but we spoke to Stefano about what it’s like having a legendry basketball player for a father.

FIBA Europe: How does it feel as a player having a father who’s already been there, done that?

Stefano: It doesn’t affect me really in any way, because it was me who decided to play basketball without him pushing me into it or putting any pressure on me to do certain things. I just love this game and decided that’s what I wanted to do?

FIBA Europe: Who’s the better player then?

Stefano: Hard to say really, because he was left hand and I’m right. (Laughing) No, of course he is a much better player than me. He could play more positions than me, where is in my game I’m really an out-and-out guard.

FIBA Europe: Do you try to emulate him in any way?

Stefano: I’d love to win the trophies that he did. But then again, when you look at the list of the things he won, I think every player wants to win those trophies.


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