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Well-travelled Pep Claros takes charge of Egypt
ALEXANDRIA (AfroBasket 2015/Olympics) - Egypt have put veteran Spanish coach Josep 'Pep' Claros in charge of their national team.
The country's basketball federation reached out to Claros after their first-place finish in the Eliminations Zone V competition in Uganda at the end of September, a result that qualified the team for AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia.
Not long after, the sides agreed on a contract.
Claros will coach the team at FIBA Africa's flagship event and, if the Egyptians qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, he will also lead the team at those Summer Games.
"We'll begin to train as soon as we can. The (Egyptian) national league will be in its final stage so it will be good to watch some players live in the best part of their season."
It's easy to see why Egypt became interested in Claros.
The multi-lingual coach - he speaks Catalan, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian and French - has a wealth of experience both in his homeland and abroad, and he has enjoyed plenty of success.
Claros has coached in Europe and in North, Central and South America.
As a head coach, he has been in 13 finals with different teams in 10 countries.
In international basketball, he coached El Salvador's national team to Copa Independencia Championship glory.
As coach of Mexico (2010-13), Claros steered the Mexicans to a silver medal at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez.
His team nearly came from behind to beat hosts Puerto Rico in the Final but fell, 82-77.
Claros coached Mexico at the CentroBaskets in the Dominican Republic (2010) and Puerto Rico (2012).
Egypt were not at full strength at the FIBA Basketball World Cup where they had to go up against true powerhouses in Group A (hosts Spain, France, Serbia, Brazil and Iran), suffered heavy defeats in all of their games.
The potential is there, however, for a team that fought through adversity under coach Amr Abouelkhir and finished runners-up at AfroBasket 2013 to clinch a spot at this year's World Cup.
"My expectations are always high," Claros said.
"No matter who you play against, it's clear that you can always compete and win if you work harder than the others.
"At the end of the day, it's 5-on-5, there are two baskets and one ball.
"So you have to be prepared.
"If you play against a team of the same level, you must win.
"If the opponent is better than your team, you still can win playing above your limit.
"If the opponent is much better than you... they have to fight until last second to beat you.
"After a game, we all know that you could have dome more so in practices, we need to work in order to reduce the distance between what you do and what you can do.
"This is the only way you can feel a bit satisfied."