Alonso: Greece Strong But Spain Will Win

18 July 2013

U20 MEN

Spain head coach Alfonso Alonso
Spain head coach Alfonso 'Sito' Alonso has no doubt his side can defeat a strong Greek team on Friday

Spain head coach Sito Alonso has nothing but words of praise for Greece, his team's opponents in the Sportland U20 European Championship quarter-finals on Friday.

Alonso, who is also the coach of ACB club Lagun Aro GBC San Sebastian, delivered to fibaeurope.com a detailed scouting report on the Greeks, analysed his own side and revealed which players competing in the tournament in Tallinn have made a lasting impression to him.

What are Greece's strong points as a team?
I think they have three, mainly. Firstly, their ability to control the pace, they have players who do that extremely well; a lot of them are younger, in their first year at U20 level, they have however experience at this level of competition and have controlled the game fantastically in all the games I've seen them.
Secondly, they have some stretches of great three-point shooting which if you fail to control, they can generate very wide margins; they have in particular three or four players that if they start shooting well, they pick up confidence and also step up their defensive effort.
Thirdly, their defensive capacity, as they might not have players of 2.15m but they rotate very well, have a lot of similar players who can interchange positions and it is obvious they have worked on their defence a lot, forcing the opponent to put energy into reading it every time.

Why has Spain's game not been so consistent so far in Estonia?
I think that we depend quite a lot on our shooting percentages, and this should not be the case. We've had moments in the championship that we played really, really well but there have been instances, like the third quarter against Latvia and the first twenty minutes against Slovenia, that we shoot three-pointers in excess, because they let us shoot. When our defence is influenced by our shooting accuracy, it is a mistake that we could pay very dearly.

4. Kaspars Vecvagars (Latvia)
Kaspars Vecvagars  is one of the players that have impressed Alonso the most

So it is a mental issue first and foremost?
It is clearly a mental issue, where you think 'I have the option, I am the one who makes the choice whether to shoot or not,' but then if you miss the shot, it must not have an impact on the work that you do afterwards. These short spells are what influence our game, but if we solve this mental approach then we can beat any team, be it Greece or anyone else we play against.

Who will win the game on Friday?
Spain, for sure

You have long experience of working with young players, yet is your first tournament with the national team. How do you find the level of talent outside Spain?
It is very high, perhaps not globally, but there have been individual players that have impressed me, they have the highest level. Most of all, the two point guards of Latvia [Kaspars Vecvagars and Ingus Jakovics], which are among the best I've seen in a long time; [Janis] Berzins is also another Latvian at high level, as well as [Pavlin] Ivanov of Bulgaria who has a great athletic ability and he can also shoot so well in all conditions, at any time, as well as other players. And I am not mentioning the players that we [Spain] have which also stand out above the rest.


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