|The pre-game bananas provide plenty of energy for Daniel Diez so far|
Daniel Diez has been instrumental to Spain's excellent start at the Sportland U20 European Championship and our Half-Court Press can reveal that fans of the team have mainly his father, as well as a yellow-skinned fruit, to thank for that.
The 20-year-old small forward has already won European gold with Spain at both U16 and U18 level and was included in the All Tournament Team in last summer's U20 European Championship in Slovenia, where the Iberian giants took bronze.
How did you start playing basketball?
My father used to be a basketball player but he had a serious injury in his hand and had to quit the sport at 20 years of age. It was his big passion and he wanted his children to get the chance to play this sport, so he took me to (historical Madrid club) Estudiantes when I was only four years old. The truth is I will be eternally grateful to him.
Has there been any game in particular that has marked your career so far?
Yes, absolutely, maybe because of the fact I was still in my first steps with the national team, or because of the atmosphere in the arena, or because of the importance of the game, it was the final at the U16 European Championship in Lithuania (in Kaunas, 2009) and we managed to pull it through and win the gold.
Who is your favourite player?
[Argentinian player] Andres Nocioni more than anyone, because his characteristics are quite similar to mine and I always focus on him when he plays.
What do you aspire to do after the championship in Estonia is over?
My short-term dream is to earn a fixed spot on the Real Madrid roster [he will return to the Spanish champions after a loan spell at Lagun Aro GBC San Sebastian] and play important minutes with the first team. Long-term, maybe to play in the NBA one day.
What is the one thing you cannot live without?
My parents! They always come to watch me play, I have a lot of little manias but the biggest one is that I want to feel that my parents are watching my game.
Speaking of manias, any of them involves food?
I always have to eat at least one banana immediately before stepping out on the floor for the game, or two if I can get my hands on them!
So if the coach came at your place for dinner, you would only serve bananas?
[He laughs] Probably not, but the thing is that I still don't know how to cook; maybe I could try make some pasta, which is simpler.
Which is the one Spanish city that everyone should visit?
Without any doubt, Madrid; it might not be on the seaside but it's the city I like above any else.