By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Zenit St. Petersburg coach and former EuroLeague champion and “Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year” winner Xavi Pascual is the latest guest of Joe Arlauckas’ “The Crossover” podcast.
Xavi Pascual was still in his 30s when he led FC Barcelona to the 2010 EuroLeague championship and was named the Euroleague Basketball Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year. He has since tested himself abroad with Panathinaikos Athens and midway through the current season joined Zenit St. Petersburg. At just 47, Pascual could still be leading EuroLeague teams for decades to come. Joe Arlauckas, host of The Crossover presented by Endesa, engaged Pascual in an insightful conversation that stretched over the breadth of his coaching career.
Their chat began in the present, with Pascual explaining his recent trip home to Barcelona from St. Petersburg when the club shut down its activities due to the COVID-19 virus. They then went back in time to learn how Pascual used coaching to pay for his university studies, to hear about the day in early 2007 when he was promoted to the head of Barcelona’s bench, and some of the coach’s favorite moments from his EuroLeague career.
It didn’t take long for the conversation to get to the 2009-10 Barcelona season, in which Pascual led a star-studded squad to an undefeated regular season and lost only twice during the entire campaign before celebrating the title in Paris.
After four years working in the FC Barcelona system and then becoming the longest-tenured head coach in the legendary club’s history, when the chance came to test himself abroad, Pascual knew it was something he had to try in part because of some words of wisdom a EuroLeague coaching great shared with him.
“I feel part of one of the greatest seasons, I think, in EuroLeague,” Pascual said of that team. “We remember that we played great basketball with speed and aggressive defense and in offense. So, I think in this book that one day the EuroLeague will [write], we are on one beautiful page.”
“I remember one time with Ettore [Messina] we had a conversation and he said to me, ‘Okay, now in Barcelona everything is perfect for you, but you will really feel [that you are] a great head coach when you will leave your country and you will go to another country and you will win something. In that moment, you really will feel, ‘Okay, I am a great coach.’ And really, he was right.”