Spanish Armada Reveals 2014 Youth Plans

03.04.2014

YOUTH BASKETBALL

Spain head coach Alfonso Alonso
Sito Alonso moves from head coach of the U20 national team to the U17 team which will compete at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai

A brief glance at the medals table of youth European championships in the last decade or so serves as a testament to Spanish basketball's superpower status across all age groups.

By way of example, one can mention that Spain have stepped on the podium of the U20 European Championship Men every single year since 2007, which translates into seven consecutive years of medal success.

Or that 'La Roja' has won seven gold medals and one silver in the last nine tournaments of the U16 European Championship Women, missing out on the podium only on one occasion since 2005.

The list goes on, with every summer presenting the men's and women's Spanish teams with a new opportunity to add new silverware to the already extensive trophy case of the Spanish Basketball Federation's (FEB) headquarters in Madrid.

There is nothing to indicate that the summer of 2014 will be an exception to this rule, although FEB is never explicitly declaring the hunt for medals to be the main target of their youth teams' campaigns.

This week, the Spanish Federation officially presented its national teams' structure for the upcoming summer, with a firm focus on continuity.

Jaume Ponsarnau, who is also the head coach of Liga Endesa club Bruixa d'Or Manresa and an assistant to Juan Orenga on the senior national team, will be in charge of the U20 men's team.

Sito Alonso, who was at the helm of the U20 Spanish side in last summer's European Championship in Estonia, will instead this year take on the challenge of steering the U17 national team in the FIBA World Championship in Dubai.

In selecting the final 12-man squad for the July European Championship in Greece, Ponsernau will have an extensive pool of talent at his disposal, including the likes of Guillermo Hernangomez (Cajasol Sevilla), Ilimane Diop (Laboral Kutxa), Albert Homs (Rio Natura Monbus) or Agusti Sans (Joventut Badalona).

"We will form a new team on which we will unite the talent of the generation of '94 with the proven competitiveness of the '95ers," Ponsarnau commented.

"We will do our best to play attractive basketball, that will also represent the development process that is followed at the clubs and the national team structure.

"The U20 European Championship is a high-level challenge because all the players have already accumulated experience from previous international tournaments."

Anna Caula will continue in the role of head coach of the U20 Women's team, which she has led to the top of the podium in the last two European Championships.

15. Astou Ndour (Spain)
Astou Ndour is expected to be back for another summer with the Spain U20 Women's team

Astou Ndour, who averaged a near double-double in the 2013 tournament in Turkey and walked away with MVP honours, is expected to lead Spain's title defence for another year.

The 94-born center followed up that double success with an impressive season at Gran Canaria and was proclaimed the MVP of Spain's Liga Femenina.

"The circumstances of women's basketball allow most of the players to compete at senior level and, in cases like that of Astou Ndour, do so with remarkable distinction," Caula commented.

"To have a player of that level in the tournament is a luxury.

"We have talent at all positions and this will go together that with the competitive instinct that always characterises our players."

José Ramon Cuspinera stays at the helm of the U18 Spanish men's team, following their dramatic bronze medal success last year in Latvia.

Only one player on that side, forward Marc Garcia of FC Barcelona, was born in 1996 and thus eligible to return this year.

"We have in our hands a balanced generation that has players of physical ability and good shooters," Cuspinera said.

The U18 European Championship Men of 2014 takes place in Konya, Turkey from 24 July to 3 August.

Meanwhile Evaristo Perez will take charge of Spain's U18 Women's team but will in effect be working with the same group of players as last year, as he had spent the past four summers as head coach of the U16 side.

The vastly experienced Perez turned to youth basketball after coaching Spain's senior team at both EuroBasket Women 2007 and EuroBasket Women 2009.

Consequently, the 31-year-old Andreu Bou has been promoted to head coach of the U16 Women's team after serving as an assistant to Perez during the last two European Championships.

Roberto Gonzalez, who was until recently the head coach of ACB club Valladolid, will take over the U16 Men's team.

Gonzalez is replacing Jose Ignacio Hernández, who had led Spain's U16s to the gold medal in the 2013 U16 European Championship in Ukraine.

"It is fundamental to prepare a plan for both collective and individual growth, because at this young age every day becomes an important step to the players' development and experience," explained Hernández, who also coaches EuroLeague Women club Rivas Ecopolis.

The 2014 edition of the U16 European Championship Men takes place in Latvia in late August.


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