Taylor Made: Iñiguez’s Big Chance

15.12.2011

Jeff Taylor Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003.


Ros Casares did not just surprise Natalia Hejkova when removing her as coach following the team's eighth win in 10 EuroLeague Women games on Wednesday night.

Many others were caught off guard, too.

The 84-70 victory over Lotos Gdynia, a result that coincided with Galatasaray's 85-80 defeat at UMMC Ekaterinburg, gave the Valencia club the leadership in Group A.

The Spanish outfit turned heads when parting with Hejkova, and turned even more by choosing to put Roberto Íñiguez in charge.

Carme Lluveras presents Roberto Íñiguez as new Ros Casares coach
Ros Casares General Manager Carme Lluveras presents new coach Roberto Íñiguez to the media on Thursday morning

A former player, Íñiguez was not a big-name coach waiting for a call from a European giant like former Sparta&K Moscow Region and Fenerbahce boss, Laszlo Ratgeber.

Íñiguez was a coach of the Valencia Basket youth teams.

Hejkova had led Ruzomberok to EuroLeague Women titles in 1999 and 2000 and Sparta&K to crowns in 2007 and '08.

She had a big reputation, and also had Ros Casares winning games but not always in impressive fashion.

Even before the club's surprise 73-72 defeat at VICI Aistes in Lithuania last week, with Ros Casares on a winning streak that included victories over UMMC and Galatasaray, there were murmurs of discontent at La Fonteta.

Carme Lluveras, the Ros Casares general manager, has never been afraid to make coaching changes.

For the third time in a row, in fact, she has removed a coach that has been winning games.

Hejkova replaced Jordi Fernandez last season after he had successfully guided the club into the Quarter-Finals of the EuroLeague Women.

Isma Canto had had two very successful seasons in charge before Fernandez.

Lluveras said on Thursday: "The team was not going in the right direction and that is why the club decided to make this change."

Hejkova was not, according to some in the club, pushing the players hard enough in practice.

Íñiguez spoke about that very subject when he was asked what the challenge would be like for him since he has never coached in women's basketball.

Natalia Hejkova
Former EuroLeague Women winning coach Natalia Hejkova had taken over at Ros Casares last February

"I am going to coach a basketball team," he said.

"I think I have a great basketball team.

"I don't look at whether they are boys or girls.

"Girls are much more intelligent and you can't fool them. You have to be honest."

As for the style the Ros Casares players will encounter?

"I am very demanding," he said.

"The only secret to success is consistency and work.

"We need to have talent, which we have.

"Perhaps work ethic has been lacking. We all have to bring something.

"I want the players to be well, to be ready to give their best."

Valencia Basket have produced good young players and were a great employer for Íñiguez.

"I would like to thank the club (Ros Casares) for the trust placed in me and the decision taken by them," he said.

"I had a contract with my previous club, and I want to thank Valencia Basket for understanding my reasons for taking this challenge.

"It's a step forward for me and I like challenges."

Ros Casares are loaded with very good players, and they're about to get another when USA international Maya Moore joins the team at the end of December.


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