Sergio Scariolo embraces the status: 'Once again, we're not the favorites'

2022-09-18 08:01

Sergio Scariolo embraced the status of the underdog and warned the team to not come out to the game against France overflowing with euphoria because it will hurt the squad.

Credit: Federación Española de Baloncesto
Credit Federación Española de Baloncesto

Two days ago, Spain defeated Germany in the EuroBasket 2022 semifinal to advance to the ultimate stage of the tournament. While the players and the coaching staff were celebrating their hearts out, Sergio Scariolo was much calmer than everybody else, almost as if nothing happened just a minute ago.

He's been here before. Multiple times. In fact, this is Scariolo's sixth major final while leading the Spanish national team. In the previous five finals, the Italian coach lost just once, and that only time was during the 2012 Olympic Games against the USA, featuring superstars like Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant.

Looking at the final matchup against France, Scariolo did not want euphoria to overshadow the details.

"We have to be very intelligent, play with our limited resources," the coach told ahead of the game. "We have to be smart and get the game to a level where we can compete. Playing face to face I don't think it suits us very much against a rival with great physical, athletic and technical talent."

"France has a group that has been playing together for a long time, with a lot of experience, with players from the NBA and the EuroLeague," Scariolo said. "And once again, on paper, we do not come out as the favorites but we have managed to reduce the gap that separates us more than once and to even end up winning."

After handing Slovenia an all-time defeat, Poland looked severely overmatched in the semifinal, oftentimes not being able to find any answers both offensively and defensively. Although the game ended in a 41-point blowout, Scariolo doesn't brush the game off and has some takeaways for the final.

"We must prepare an effective game plan, and prepare variants to the plan because there is always something that does not work," the coach explained. "The most complicated task once again lies with the players who must be very smart not to crash against a defensive wall with Rudy Gobert as a reference."

"That should give us positive energy but there is a risk that there will be an excess of euphoria that leads to crazy actions on the court," Scariolo feared. "They are a great rival, with an expert coach who knows how to play with many stars on the same team. The rivalry factor, with so many new faces, it's not the most important."

The final between Spain and France is scheduled at 20:30 CET today. If France takes gold, it would be just the second medal of that sort in the country's basketball history. Sergio Scariolo already has three of them, and will now be looking to get a fifth.

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