Valdeolmillos: “We have unfinished business since the 2015 Semi-Finals”
CÓRDOBA (FIBA AmeriCup 2017) - Two years later, Argentina and Mexico cross paths again at a continental tournament. This time around, it’s the FIBA AmeriCup 2017, where the Aztecs will try to give closure to their “unfinished business”, as Sergio Valdeolmillos said. He still remembers very well that defeat that left them without the pass to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“We have to think about the game from the defense standpoint. Argentina is playing at home, in front of their people, and that's why we have to play a tough game since the first second,” said the Spanish coach of the Mexican team. “We can't allow Argentina to develop their greatest weapons because they have a great talent. We must read our attack well and choose our shots. We have to find a balance and, above all, play from the defense,” he insists, in relation to the face-off that will take place at this Saturday’s Semi-Finals at the Orfeo Superdome in the city of Cordoba.
As to his team’s identity for this tournament, Valdeolmillos agrees with his Argentine colleague, Sergio Hernández; who had said that the Mexicans feel more secure with longer possessions and a game without the dizziness provoked by the young home team. “It's true, we play with a large number of passes, and although we have some verticality, we're not as sharp as they are in the game’s first option,” he analyzes.
Of course, the memory of the Semis showdown at the 2015 FIBA Americas Tournament in the sold-out Mexican venue Palacio de los Deportes still lives in the mind of the coach born in the Spanish city of Granada: “I think there’s a certain positive rivalry between Argentina and Mexico. We let that game slip from our hands. I watched it many times and I feel as though there was a turning point when Jorge Gutiérrez left the court. It's very clear to me that they couldn't stop him. We had an absolute control of the game and we were winning by eight points. After that, everything changed,” he acknowledges.
Because of this, in his mind dribbles the idea of avenging that night that had a record turnout for a FIBA Americas Tournament: 20,020 spectators witnessed the Argentine’s qualification to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“We still have that unfinished business, of course. Now we're two completely different teams, but I still believe that it’ll be a beautiful game,” he describes. “For the players, a full venue that’s charged with the passion with which Argentina play is always a cause for motivation. We've talked about it and we don't want the atmosphere or the environment to affect us negatively. That's why we don't want to make our own errors. If we make a mistake, it shall be due to Argentina's virtues,” Valdeolmillo concludes.