By Antonis Stroggylakis and Cesare Milanti/ email@example.com
Jakarta, Indonesia – The big picture of the upcoming World Cup game between Spain and Latvia is that it is another decisive clash in the race for a spot in the quarterfinals.
There’s also the “Italian Job” part of the match that features a duel at the benches between Latvia’s Luca Banchi and Spain’s Sergio Scariolo.
“It’s amazing,” Banchi said and went on to absolutely laud Scariolo. “For me, it’s a great opportunity. You know Sergio is a real point of reference, no matter what. My entire career is very connected to him. I started my pro career because of him. I respect Sergio a lot. We follow and support each other. I respect Sergio a lot.”
In March 2021, Banchi was appointed head coach of the Latvian national team. Soon afterward, Scariolo officially returned to Europe after a three-year run (that included winning the 2019 NBA championship title) as an assistant coach at the Toronto Raptors to take over Italian powerhouse Virtus Bologna.
This was Banchi’s first assignment at the helm of a national team. So he did what was only natural, necessary even, for a person in his position.
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He asked for some advice from the most successful European coach on an international level this century.
“That’s what I did from day 1 I became coach of Latvia,” Banchi said. “I visited Bologna, we sat at the table and we shared ideas and information. Because you have to learn from the best. That’s the only way to handle this job.”
Scariolo’s touch has been all over Spain’s establishment as a giant in global basketball. Under him, Spain has won a World Championship, a silver and a bronze medal in the Olympic Games, along with five EuroBasket titles.
“I’m lucky I have such a point of reference in my country,” Banchi added.” Because he’s as I told you, he’s not just a colleague I really respect. And I feel a bit embarrassed to call Sergio a colleague. He’s a friend, first of all.”
Does Banchi ever think that he may follow in Scariolo’s footsteps and do something similar with Latvia?
“Thinking about following in Sergio’s footsteps honestly at my age seems impossible,” Banchi mentioned. “For now, I have agreed to extend my relationship with the Federation until summer 2025, when we will play EuroBasket. But it is unthinkable to continue further, because this is a role that involves renunciations and sacrifices, it is not easy to combine club activities with those of the National Team, especially when you are abroad. This brings further difficulties.”
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL