Helinho, in the name of the father
Gives directions, but without bombastic gestures. He explains situations to his players and allows an exchange of smiles in a dialogue with the injured Rafael Hettsheimeir. He has the same blood, but, without a doubt, Helinho has a very different character from his father, the histrionic Hélio Rubens, who was glorious as a player and as a Brazilian basketball coach. "My dad was a very demanding coach, but he always had a good relationship with the players. He got nervous when things did not happen the way he wanted, and he expressed it in training and matches. I am a little calmer, but I have the same authenticity and the same demand," says Helinho.
Beyond the differences of personality, Hélio Rubens, winner of three medals in World Cups as player of the Brazilian national team, marked the way in the career of his son. "For most of my 20 years as a player in the company of my father I have a very large influence of him. I learned a lot from his way of working, his authenticity, his seriousness and his commitment. He always gave a lot of value to the concepts of the game and I took all that for my way of working. His influence continues day after day because we continue talking and exchanging opinions. For me it is very important to have the support of someone with such experience", explains the coach of Franca.
At the end of 2018, Helinho got his first international title as coach. He had already won the Paulista Championship when he took Franca to the final of the Liga Sudamericana. With the series against Instituto equalized in 1 triumph per team, Hélio Rubens, who had traveled to Córdoba with a group of 30 fans, promised that if his son was champion, he would shave off the mustache he had worn for years. Franca raised the title and Rubens must have kept his promise. "When we went to celebrate the triumph at the hotel, we looked for a razor and took out his mustache. Never in my life had I seen my father with that aspect. It was very funny. He was very happy to have been able to live this title with us," recalls Helinho.
This incipient and vertiginous trajectory of Helinho as a coach began to mature in the last three years as a basketball player. And the opportunity to be Franca's coach arrived very soon: "At the end of my playing career I started to think about the possibility of being a coach. I played many years and spent a lot of time with my father as a coach. First I spent a year as manager of the team to acquire knowledge". That path of transition from player to coach counted with the collaboration of two compatriots who played in the NBA: Leandrinho Barbosa and Anderson Varejao. They served as a link for Helinho to have access to the best team in the world: "It was very important for me to spend twenty days with the Golden State Warriors. A tremendous experience that helped me in the tactical part and the structure which is necessary so that the players can develop in optimal conditions. There I spoke with Steve Kerr, also with his assistants, to know his entire organization. I was in the practices of the mornings, in the afternoons and I watched the games. Accompanied everything they did from very close." From that coexistence with the planet NBA, Helinho absorbed tactical questions and urged that Franca had everything necessary for the preparation of an elite team: fitness gym, athletics track, physiotherapy room and six courts together to perform different jobs . The extension of knowledge of Helinho was not limited to the NBA: "Two years ago I went to Buenos Aires for 12 days to observe the practices of San Lorenzo and exchange information, and last year I went to Barcelona, Badalona and Murcia to accompany the training and talk to the coaches."
In the second participation of Franca in the Liga de las Americas – they had been eliminated in the first phase of the 2012 edition - Helinho qualified the team to the Semi-Final Phase. He looks relaxed and proud of how his players respond on the court. "I ask them to defend with a lot of pressure, something that I did not do well, and my father demanded. The best way to defend is to do what bothers your opponent. I put a lot of emphasis on the intensity with which we must press on the ball. Another fundamental factor is the reading of the game, understanding where each match should go, how to attack," explains the coach.
It is clear that the father is a mirror of the coach in which Helinho tries to reflect himself. But he's not the only one. "I like the concepts of playing for the other, with a strong defense and always thinking of the overall work that Gregg Popovich instills. I love watching the San Antonio Spurs games. I also enjoy the Golden State Warriors, which is very strong offensively thanks to the solidarity among the players. That's what Steve Kerr got. And in Europe I admire Željko Obradović, who holds the same ideas," explains Helinho.
Although he has only been a coach for three years, Helinho sets high goals: "I want to establish myself as a coach and gain the credibility that I am achieving over time. One of my goals is to manage the Brazilian national team. And I dream of being able to coach in Europe. To achieve all this, I must demonstrate in my country and on the continent how I work and how I lead". Lula Ferreira, former coach of Brazil, was the predecessor of Helinho in the bench of Franca and now as manager of the team he analyzes: "Aims to be a great coach for many reasons. First, because he learned from his father, a very high-level technician. Second, because he is a very calm person, very serene. And third, because it is very clear of what he wants from the team. I coached him in his last year as a player and we planned this development he is having. He still has a lot to grow and learn. Already in his third season the title began to arrive, which are what mark the career of a coach. Many do a good job, but if there are no conquests there is no recognition."
As it is evident that the path of Helinho had the guidance of his father, he enjoys sharing the passion for sports with his daughters Maitê, 10, and Luma, 9: "They love the game and we practice it at home. My wife and the girls give me a lot of strength and they accompany me in games and sometimes in training", says the coach. The love for basketball is transmitted from generation to generation.