April 26, 1983. Oscar Sanchez he marries Marisa, his girlfriend. Egg, as they call him, is only 24 years old but he is already a consecrated DT in Bahía Blanca. Villa Miter has just hired him in the middle of the season, but he has already warned that he has something that cannot be postponed. But, of course, he can’t help but continue working… “When I left the church, while I cleaned the rice from my head, I took out of my creamy suit the papers with all the scouting and the preparation of the games in which I was going to play. be away for the honeymoon and I gave them to Oveja (NdeR: refers to Sergio Hernández, his assistant at the time, 19 years old), who had come to congratulate me on the wedding. He looked at me, surprised, I gave him a kiss and went on to the party, ”he says, laughing. The anecdote reflects the uncontrolled passion for basketball of this coach who, today, at the age of 63, is still teaching on his campuses -he has been a pioneer in them in the country- after a brilliant career at the Argentine club level (almost 1,300 directed games, champion of the National League with Athens in 2003) and having the milestone of having been the discoverer of the best basketball player in the history of the country (Emanuel Ginóbili).
His legacy is in good hands. Marianohis eldest (male) son, born five years after that story (in 1988), is no longer known as “the son of the Egg”… Three years ago, when he jumped to national consideration for the great personalized work he did with louis scola Before the great 2019 World Cup that our captain had, this coach specialized in developing players began to chain high-level jobs, with consecrated basketball players. First several Americans from the NBA (the Morris brothers, Mario Chalmers and Joe Johnson), in February of this year he worked with Luca Vildoza on his return to action – and weeks before returning to the NBA with the Bucks – and now called him Facundo Campazzo to polish his offensive game in his quest to stay in the best league in the world. Work that he is doing in two parts: eight days during April and now they have started again, in Córdoba. Why cut? In the middle, Mariano spent 15 days in San Antonio, living in Manu’s house, being in the “kitchen” of the Spurs, seeing how they perfect the players. All these exciting topics were discussed with Mariano in an interview, after his return from Texas.
-What is the first basketball memory you have?
-(Thinks) I would tell you two… Flashes playing when I was very young on the court that my old man set up in the backyard of my house (NdeR: semi-professional, painted in the NBA style and named Egg Center, or in Alma, the neighborhood club Caisamar de Mar del Plata where he always went.
-And how would you describe your old man?
-A fanatic, a passionate, someone very ethical and responsible. Much of what he is like he passed on to me. As Luis (Scola) told me, one day when we were sitting talking in his field, “thanks to that madness, you are here”. Maybe I’m not that type of fan, who has everything decorated with basketball things, but I am very competitive and responsible like him, I go out of my way to inform myself all the time.
-What are the craziest things you remember about your father?
-Uf, many things that seemed normal and with time I realized that they were crazy. Reactions that he had as a coach, those jumps that he hit, when he entered the court, the discussions with the referees (he laughs). It was a show because it was always very competitive. Then all the things he bought and brought home, from a Spurs mat to the basketball hoop we had as a trash can outside the house. Not to mention the pool with the painted background of the different NBA teams or his office all decorated, imitating Madison Square Garden. Sometimes I have told him “stop with the fanaticism”, but he doesn’t pay attention. He has asked a painter to hurry up with the pool because a family was coming to spend the day and wanted to have it ready… But hey, obviously he earned it all. With work, passion and also with great results. Imagine that he is the one who discovered the most important player in the history of this country…
-Are you Huevito, his young version, as many say?
-(Serie). And yes, a little yes. It may be in some things, like we like basketball, teaching, always learning more, the passion to modernize ourselves, in addition to both being ambitious, professional, a little anxious and impulsive (laughs). Also in gestures, many people tell me. But the big difference is that he is a team coach and I am a player developer. He teaches in one way and I in another. He looks for team results, I the individual improvement of the player. And the other difference is that he talks about basketball all the time (laughs), I like to talk about other things in life, not being the heavy basketball that always is (laughs). Of course, I am still very proud of what he has done, the work he did, the results he had in the League and I am clear that he did not direct elsewhere because he had no other representative…
-What did he transmit to you?
-The passion for basketball, of course, and the addiction to overcome. It is today that I get sick when I do not see something else to learn. We both invest a lot in training. The difference is that he is going to see tournaments, like now that he is in the NBA final, which is his 71st trip, a few weeks after being in the Final 4 in Belgrade. And I, on the other hand, go to watch team training, not games or tournaments. Now I just got back from San Antonio. Manu invited me very generously and the Spurs opened their doors for me…
-When and why did you decide to dedicate yourself to this different function within the coaches?
-I always wanted to be linked to basketball, whether I played or not. I realized that I had naturalness to teach the boys. Motivate them. I started in 2011 with dad at his historic campus in Mardel and I realized that he had facilities, that the kids liked me to show them technical gestures… I understood that, by doing that, I could motivate them to be more on the court. Many weren’t going to shoot anymore, they didn’t get enough on the court. And I understood that I had to do it on the court, with shorts, sneakers, getting down to work.
-Was there a click?
-I remember that I went to Serbia, still a player and I came back not wanting to play anymore. On the plane I realized that I wanted to start teaching. But I didn’t know how, I had doubts… I had to think about methods, review my organization, to focus on the players and their individual development. It was an internal fight until I found my style and methods. Luckily I was very well surrounded and I learned everything, from Jorge Díaz Velez and Ricardo Bojanich, the teachers of the Mini and the training in the country, from the Serbian Alex Glisic who came to dad’s campus, from Andrew Moran and Micah Lancaster, important coaches world-class in the comprehensive development of players. I learned a lot from everyone.
-This is a relatively new role, what does it include?
-It is not being an individual technique coach, it is much more than that. From the study of the player to train to his correction, mentalization, how to eat, how to improve his physique and, of course, what can be enhanced from his game. But it starts in a diagnosis…
-The big change, moreover, is that the court coaches have to be almost as fit as the players.
-Of course, everything changed. I take care of myself even at meals. Today you have to be very well. A training coach cannot be fat or physically ill. Because he will be singled out and eventually kicked out. I was recently with Ettore Messina, the great Ettore, and he was on the court, in sneakers, rebounding or passing the ball to the player.
-How did you start to develop important players?
-First, little by little, with some guys from the National League, like Lucas Pérez and Cristian Cortes. Then, in 2016, I spent a week with Manu in Bahia, although assisting him because he already had the Spurs work plan. In 2017 Moran called me to go to Miami, first, to work with Joe Johnson (NDE: NBA player between 2002 and 2020) and Mario Chalmers (2008-2018), then to Las Vegas with the Morris brothers (Markieff and Marcus, both today in the NBA). Then came that job with Luis (Scola) in the run-up to the 2019 World Cup, in February of this year Luca (Vildoza) played and now I’m with Facu (Campazzo). Everything has been a progression and more than a skills coach, I have become an integral coach, seeing where a player fails, what he lacks and then working with him.
-How was Manu?
-It was my first time with an NBA, an impact because I was 25 years old and on top of that it was with someone special with whom I had an emotional relationship. That opportunity demanded me and helped me go for more. It showed me that I always have to be ready and forced me to learn more about methodology. Manu brought his personal plan, which the Spurs had given him about attacking the greats in the zone. I had to attend it. It helped me.
-And how did you get to the other NBA? How was the experience?
-Andrew (Moran) took me as his assistant. And more than an experience, I took it as an opportunity. I had trips to Serbia and Barcelona, I had improved my English, my basketball terminology and the method. And I went to attend, to do what Andrew asked me to do, being active…
-It must be difficult, at one point, to say “I’m an Argentine, what do I have to contribute to an American who has been playing all his life, who had great coaches and who is already in the NBA”. Or not?
– Totally, it is difficult. But I went to be on the court with them, without thinking that they were in the NBA. If he saw something he could contribute, he did. He felt that he was prepared for these opportunities.
-You are 1m82 and they are 2m10, but these types of coaches are with them on the court, you have to defend them, be up to the task.
Sure, you have to train. I prepared myself, I got stronger. I remember that Luis (Scola), when I was with him, asked me for more physical resistance. You have to defend like a big man, rebound, pass the ball. You have to be trained, there all the coaches are big… There is no longer the chubby coach, who is to one side and does not move. They make you see it, you have to be presentable. In San Antonio I was with Pop and with more than 70, he was training on the stationary bike.
-What made you jump to national consideration, the same, was Scola in 2019, in the run-up to the great World Cup that he had, those famous 14 weeks in his field in Castelli, right?
-Yes, of course, Luis gave me a chance to show myself, because until then I was almost a stranger, who was almost ten years younger than him. But not only that… Luis improved me. I thought he was at 80/90% of my chances and, in reality, he was at 60%. It’s not that he exposed me, because I’m always prepared, but he asked me for more… And that, in addition to an opportunity for me to show that he could increase his resources, was for him because he gave himself another chance to continue improving, to lengthen your career. He gave me the chance to show him my study on him. And maybe it was because of what I researched about his game, because of the security that I talked to or because of the references that he asked for from me, that he made me accept my suggestions.
-What did you tell him, how did you convince him?
-When he raised doubts about what he wanted to do, I told him that maybe he could not be stronger, but more agile, that he could not be much more explosive, but faster and more daring. I felt that he could give him technical and tactical intelligence to create imbalances in front of the rim, playing from the three-point line. Luis had always been a player with his back to the rim and then a steady shot, but I was sure that, combining the physical work of Marcelo López (his personal PF) and mine, he could achieve important advances that no one expected in the World Cup. . We changed the style and no one saw it coming. When he was receiving and breaking in less than a second, the assists were gone and he could go all the way to the bottom of the rim. We worked on everything, laterality, breaks, foot control, handling… he had a technical awakening. And the key was that he trusted, from my previous work. On the last day Luis knocked over a ball and when he fell, he bounced on the ground. There he told me “how good I feel, I improved”. It was quite a demonstration of satisfaction, agility, explosiveness… There was a great merit of his. Being in his field for three months, hours and hours, in the cold, at the age of 39, after having played in the NBA and the Euroleague, allowing it to change the way he was and played, was something very special.
-And when you saw him in China, doing what he did, what did you feel?
-And it was very special, I have a video with the same actions that we train during the matches. Traced. And then to see that by playing in China he was able to do that World Cup and play the Euroleague again. It’s those moments when you realize that what you studied was useful…
-How would you describe Scola?
-(thinks a lot) Ambitious, educated, prepared, meticulous, demanding, fussy. He did me a lot of good, I have no words to thank him.
-At the beginning of this year you worked with Luca Vildoza, just before his chance with the Bucks in the NBA materialized. How was the?
-It is clear that he caught me much more prepared, with more experience. Vildoza was coming back, he needed growth and we were able to move forward, knowing that today the NBA does not forgive you, that it is necessary to do a lot of extra work out of season. Today there is no easy place for anyone, no matter how talented you may be. And the players know that they need to improve on their not-so-good facets because the teams read each other’s weaknesses very quickly and expose them to you.
-The Vildoza thing happened just when you arrived at the Confederation (CAB), when you took over as one of the training coaches together with Herman Manlé. How is that experience being and if you are still there now?
-I always came collaborating in different ways with the formation, with Silvio Santander, Pepe Sánchez and then Herman called me. I am grateful to you. But beware, I only spoke with him, never with a leader. I am working ad honorem and when I can be, I will be. And when not, because other responsibilities arise, like now with Facu (Campazzo), not anymore. Because a technician called me, not the leadership. I said yes to help and represent the country, but I never had a meeting. I can’t be like this forever…
-You worked a week with Facu and now you returned to Córdoba to continue. What are you looking for with your contract? What do you feel you can add to it?
-Facu has a lot of desire to improve, he invested in a shooting coach (Dave Love) and in me. I have been studying it, with the help of a coach (Renzo Balducci), the same as he did with Scola. I think his biggest problem is the isolated game, not the shot itself. The NBA is facing your problem: if you don’t have this or that, the rivals are going to seek to expose you. And your coach is going to take you out if you don’t respond, like Miami’s Duncan Robinson did in the playoffs. As he does not defend well, the rival always attacked him and then the coach put very little on him, even though he is a great shooter. Because he cost the team… In Facu’s case, the issue is not being able to take advantage in attack. He doesn’t create the opportunity to shoot… We must work with individual tactics so that he has space for your shot, see which rivals he can take half an advantage against and which ones he can get a full advantage against. You need resources to produce it, see how to create imbalances in defenders. The problem today is that it does not generate them, not punctually its external launch. Facu looks more at his teammates than at the hoop because he doesn’t feel he has enough resources. If he improves that, the efficiency will go up by itself. And all that is trained, it is improved. In a week we made a lot of progress and now we will continue along that line. We don’t have much time because his time in the National Team will come later. We make every training session count, we go to the wound, without wasting time.
-Finally, how was the experience of 15 days in San Antonio?
-Manu invited me to a workshop at the Spurs. These are days of training with young players already signed (Dejuante Murray, Joshua Primo, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell) and some others from the G League affiliate team. The entire staff of the Spurs and Austin were there, there are about ten coaches who are with the players from 8 am until the afternoon, including Pop and with the leadership of the historic Chip Engelland, the No. 1 among developers. They are all available to the players, so that they are happy and improve day by day. I went to learn, with my little notebook, I looked at everything, I wrote everything down. They opened the doors for me, they treated me very well. When they see that you are learning, they let you know what they will do, they explain to you and they even make you take part. It even happened to me with Pop, who knew who he was and even asked me about Facu (Campazzo).
-And yapa you stayed those days in Manu’s house.
Yes, everything is very special. When I was younger, I had a great relationship with Manu which, logically, was later cut short due to a very demanding career. And now we resume it from another place, more professional. Beyond loving him as a friend, it is difficult for me to have ease with him because I continue to see him as a historical megastar and I always seek to learn. But he always helps you, with his opinion or giving you his vision. In addition, I like to share moments with Many, his wife, and the children.
-In addition, we all know that Manu does not give you anything, that you are there for your abilities and progress as a coach.
-Of course, Manu is very educated, curious and ambitious. He wants to know everything. And he demands you. I wasn’t there because he likes me. He saw that I have traveled to learn, he knows my passion and ambition. I think he respects me professionally. In San Antonio he opened the doors for me, he organized everything for me. I will always be very grateful to him. Impressive what he did. Living this paradise from the inside is priceless for me. And more so being with him, with whom I learn all the time, as happened to me with Scola.
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