Scariolo on joining Virtus: “The night before I decided, I couldn’t close my eyes”

2023-01-17T14:41:29+00:00 2023-01-17T14:41:29+00:00.

Nikola Miloradovic

17/Jan/23 14:41

The head coach of Virtus Bologna, Sergio Scariolo, and the Spanish national team talked to Joe Arlauckas on the Crossover podcast about his decision to leave the NBA and join the Italian team.

By Eurohoops Team/

Sergio Scariolo returned to European basketball last season and immediately won the EuroCup with Virtus Segafredo Bologna right before conquering Europe with the Spanish national team last summer.

The Italian coach left the Toronto Raptors, where he worked as an assistant coach for three years, as an NBA champion (2019), and admitted that at first, it was hard on him to decide on coming back to European basketball.

I remember the night before the day I decided was the only sleepless night I’ve had in the last 20 years, even before a game or after a game. I couldn’t close my eyes all night. And then after making the decision, I felt like, ‘hey, it was a no-brainer,’” Scariolo said on the Crossover podcast with Joe Arlauckas.

The two-time ACB League champion and one of the most decorated coaches in Europan national team basketball talked about the most important principles in today’s game.

You’ve got to really be available to play with other teammates, to share the ball, because nowadays the defense will be able to shut a selfish, even if he’s an extremely gifted player, down much easier than before. So first of all, you have to feel the will to play together with your teammates, to share the ball. And second, you have to share the will to play defense. Those two principles are non-negotiable. I could barely coach a player who was not really into this, committed to this. Then all the rest, you can have more or less flexibility.

He remembered his beginnings and how his connection with Spain started.

There was probably no better place to make your first step outside your country than Spain and specifically Vitoria, where there was a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of desire to climb to the next level,” Scariolo said.

Sergio Scariolo started his coaching career at Scavolini Pesaro and worked at Aurora Desio and Fortitudo Bologna before joining Baskonia in 1997. After that, he led Real Madrid, Unicaja, and again the Vitoria team in Spain, and was at the helm of the Spanish national team from 2009 to 2012 in his first mandate. The second one started in 2015 and is still in progress.

Besides coaching in Spain, Scariolo worked as head coach of Khimki Moscow and Olimpia Milano for two years each. He was an Italian champion in 1990. won two Italian Supercups with Virtus since the last season and a Russian Cup in 2008.

With Spain, he won four gold medals at Eurobasket, one at the World Cup in China in 2019. He also added Olympic silver and bronze to his silverware cabinet and a European bronze from 2017 in Turkey.