Gonzalo García: "Finally, it happened"
By: ALEJANDRO PÉREZ
BOEDO (DIRECTV Liga de las Américas 2018) - When the victory against Brazil's Mogi das Cruzes and the conquest of the DIRECTV Liga de las Américas title was a reality, Gonzalo García, San Lorenzo's coach, embraced his closest friends and, with a sense of relief sighed a sincere “finally, it happened!”
This exclamation portrayed very deep feelings of the coach who, despite how uncomfortable he feels during interviews, agrees to share them with the press.
“I had been struggling for years to reach a big title. I came close a couple of times, but couldn’t do it. I searched for it. Although I can’t complain about my professional record, this Liga de las Américas is my first important title as chief coach. Achieving it lets me feel more at ease,” 50-year old García acknowledges.
And then he quickly clarifies: “I didn't need this title to show anything to anyone or to lift a weight off my shoulders. I just felt I owed it to myself, that's all. It was something personal, a wish I wanted to come true. But this is secondary. The priority was to achieve the objective the club had established and helping to get there causes me a great sense of satisfaction. Later I had unfinished business with myself and San Lorenzo gave me all the means to solve it. That's why I didn’t want to let this opportunity go.”
Gonzalo García has been coaching for two decades at the highest professional level in Argentina; he also had international experiences in Uruguay and in Brazil, and since 2004 he has been a part of all the coaching teams of the Argentine national team. Even with the changes in head coaches, among Rubén Magnano, Sergio Hernández and Julio Lamas there was always something permanent: García’s presence in their staff. His distinguished career has had different phases, which have included three Olympic Games, three FIBA Basketball World Cups and six Americas Tournaments.
For this reason, he argues that “this achievement isn't something for show because I don’t build my career for others. I compete against myself to be better every day in what I do. I had other plans for this season, but when San Lorenzo came along, I saw it was the chance to achieve something important and that encouraged me.”
That's when the coach says that he “didn't think about coaching this season. I was very tired, I haven’t had vacations for 13 years because of my commitments with the Argentine national team, and I had recently had health problems. I had decided to pause for a while. But then San Lorenzo presented an ambitious proposal: they wanted to be champions of the Americas. That made me change because I saw a great athletic and professional challenge, not a personal one. And it was worth the effort.”
The fact that the Liga de las Américas title was a desire for San Lorenzo showed throughout the tournament, since the environment surrounding the team portrayed so, although this sometimes served in their favor —and other times, against them.
García himself justified that “that pressure was being sensed. They signed us for that and neither the players nor the coaching staff wanted to fail. We wouldn't have forgiven ourselves if we didn’t win Liga de las Américas. That's why at times we were stuck, we weren't as loose. That same desire to win helped us get through some bad moments.”
The coach explains what it means to work today in San Lorenzo: “The club has a great structure at the team's disposition; with specialized and responsible personnel for all areas. The directives take care of improving everything. There are many people working in comfortable facilities. That generates a virtuous core, and a sense of commitment and responsibility on all of those who are involved. The club deserved the continental title. No one could assure good results, but a lot of work was done for them to happen.”
Gonzalo García is very respected in Argentine basketball. By his colleagues, but above all, by players. Liga de las Américas seems to have transported him to a higher level —to a privileged place.
However, the coach, who always keeps his head down, is clear that he “doesn't feel in the best moment of my career. A career isn't built on a good result. I feel like the same coach I was before this title. Of course, I am very happy for the club and for myself because we're champions of the Americas, but careers are built year after year, without rest.”