Alex Garcia: The Brave Warrior
BAURU (DIRECTV Liga de las Américas) - Just the sight of Alex García is intimidating. That mean, and always angry-looking face marks his character inside the court. But when he’s not playing, Alex seems like another person: kind, friendly, fun. A sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The nickname that Alex has forgotten when he got it — but gladly adopted — is Bravo. In fact, he uses it as part of his social media handles. “The Bravo thing started because of my game style; the strong defense, the intensity and the potent dunks,” he explains. This characteristic of being a hard man, a warrior, he discovered when he started his relationship with basketball.
“I started to play at school when I was 13. At the time, my brother Eduardo already played for our city's team, Orlandia, and because I went with him so much I started to like it and every day I became more and more interested.” Those first steps, staring at his brother, paved his way. According to Alex, Eduardo was much better than him and he believes that “if he would've had the right mentality, he could’ve played in the Brazilian National Team, in Europe and in the NBA.” Evidently, Alex did indeed have the quality that his brother lacked. If there's something that the Bauru shooting guard doesn’t lack is mentality. He had the pleasure of playing with his brother in Orlandia and at some neighboring cities, where they won 3x3 and 2x2 tournaments.
The other side of this court warrior is the relaxed and homely father. “Basketball is my job and that is my style. But outside I have two daughters, I'm a good husband, I like staying at home with my family, watching movies and playing with the dogs. I'm very relaxed. We're two different persons,” Alex analyzes.
His character and talent took him to the Brazilian National Team while he played with Ribeirão Preto. His first great tournament was the 2002 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Then, in the 2003 Americas Tournament in San Juan wasn’t good for Brazil but it was Alex’s platform to the NBA, although it wasn't even in his plans. “In the 2003 Americas Tournament I played well against United States. When the tournament ended, Gregg Popovich called me and from one day to the next I was signed by the Spurs.” His injuries didn’t allow him to develop an extensive career in the most important league in the world.
But the Brazilian guard has fond memories: “My NBA experience was very good. I played little because of two injuries, but all the same it was something unique. I left Brazil when I was 23 and, besides the dream that everyone has, I never would've thought to play in the NBA. The day to day in San Antonio was very nice but also a bit difficult because I didn’t speak the language, something that Manu Ginóbili helped me with, we used to hang together a lot at the time. Besides, the game philosophy is different and that paralyzed me a bit and I couldn’t manage to loosen up and show my virtues. When I managed to loosen up, I was injured and then had no other opportunities. Then, in New Orleans, I felt more comfortable because I knew the environment and could play 12 games until I injured my ACL. Despite the injuries, my memories of the NBA are not sad.”
Beyond the game, Alex underlines his experience of having been coached by Gregg Popovich: “He’s sensational. He has a way of reaching the player and knowing what everyone needs. He’s very fun and jokes all the time. Besides, he worries that everybody's family is fine. He talked to my wife to see if she liked San Antonio. He took into consideration every detail.”
Alex once again stood out in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas. This merited another call from the San Antonio Spurs, but a new injury, this time in an adductor, closed his doors to the NBA. And there, an opportunity came up to play at the Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv: A very powerful team with which he would reach the Euroleague’s Final Four. “When I received the proposal I was worried because Israel was in a permanent conflict with Palestine. All I knew was what they show you: war, war and more war. But, all the same, I signed a 4-year contract and said nothing to my wife. When I told her, she got scared. However, upon arriving at Israel, it was a whole other picture. I lived in one of the best sectors of Tel Aviv and in Maccabi they had a similar structure to the one used by several NBA teams,” says “El Bravo” Alex, who had no fear of the bombs that feal near the city. However, he left before his time was due. “I was very happy there. I didn’t fulfill the 4 contract years because you have everything as a player and you travel a lot, but family life is different and my wife and daughter — who was 3 at the time —were always alone, didn’t know the language, and that made me end the contract after the first season,” García explains.
After the experience in Israel, Alex returned to Brazil. He was for a year in Pinheiros, then six in Uniceub and now he’s been four years at Bauru. With his two most recent teams he has played nine editions of Liga de las Américas. He was champion with Uniceub in 2009 and with Bauru in 2015, including an MVP title. Without a doubt, he is one of the main figures of the continental competition. García is the player with most games played (54), more rebounds (269) and more assists (242) in the history of Liga de las Américas. Besides, he’s second in points (838) and in steals (79), just behind Leandro García Morales in both figures. “I'm a whole player that seeks perfection every year, especially in this style of playing, where I do a little bit of everything. Despite what many think in Brazil, where the best player is the one that makes 30 points, I prefer a 10-point, 8 rebounds and 8 assists game. The important thing is to help the team win,” Alex assures.
And he adds: “If we look at the numbers I'm the best player of the competition’s history. And numbers don’t lie.” He’s not wrong. And these statistics could keep on growing. Because Alex, who’s 38, promises to keep it going to overcome the 40-year barrier where his former teammate Ginóbili plays, as well as the 42 years his friend Marcelinho plays with. If this weren't enough, his objective is to surpass Uruguayan player García Morales as the greatest scorer in history. There is still much more Bravo Alex to enjoy.