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01 Сентября 2009 Журнал "FIBA Assist Magazine"

Виды спорта: Баскетбол

Рубрики: Профессиональный спорт

Hall Of Fame Inductee Gonzalez Reflects On Past, Looks At The Present

Hall Of Fame Inductee Gonzalez Reflects On Past, Looks At The Present

Hall Of Fame Inductee Gonzalez Reflects On Past, Looks At The Present

Argentina have a rich history when it comes to international basketball. One conversation with Ricardo Gonzalez, who was last week inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame, makes that very evident.

A guard on the national team that won the inaugural FIBA World Championship in Argentina 59 years ago, Gonzalez had some interesting thoughts on basketball as it was when he played, and as it is now. He spoke to Cindy Garcia from FIBA.

FIBA: You must be thrilled to have been inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.

RICARDO GONZALES: Many years have gone by and it’s very gratifying and I feel extremely happy.

FIBA: Ricardo, you had many successes you playing career. Is there one specific achievement that stands out?

RICARDO GONZALES: The World Championship in 1950. Many of my teammates are still alive and we still manage to see each other. That was the most important. There are others, to have gone to the (1948) Olympics in London and to (1952) Helsinki where we finished fourth - it was also a beautiful thing. There was the Pan American Games in Mexico where we played against the United States and beat them (laughs). In reality, we must have played 10 times against the United States and I’m pretty sure we had more triumphs than they did. It was an honor and we felt extremely happy.

FIBA: How has basketball changed from the time when you played to now?

RICARDO GONZALES: It gives me happiness. Nowadays players , whether they are in the NBA or are playing in Europe, they have the good fortune of being able to assure themselves of their future from a financial standpoint while at the same time being able to do what they love doing. The players are happy and they are good boys. They all do a lot for the youth. They create foundations. They are able to take children that are on the streets to attract them to the sport. But, I think that is the most fulfilling thing because money comes and goes. To be able to give a chance to children who have no possibilities and with their help, they can go on to realize their dreams, I find that admirable.

FIBA: Basketball for you must have opened many doors in terms of traveling, getting to know other cultures. Is that true?

RICARDO GONZALES: One has the privilege to have been able to travel, to get to know the world. I was lucky to have played in two Olympic Games, in London and Helsinki. With my club (Argentinian club Palermo), I went all over Spain. We also went to Italy, we went to France. I traveled around South America, Mexico. It was a great experience.

FIBA: What is your opinion about the basketball team of Argentina now and basketball as a whole in the country?

RICARDO GONZALES: There were many players that weren’t able to take part in the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico. Of our top 10 players, the only one able to join the team was Luis Scola. The others weren’t able to come, for various reasons which I don’t understand because of the clubs – (Manu) Ginobili is coming off an injury, (Andres) Nocioni was struggling. Fortunately, we were able to qualify (for the 2010 FIBA World Championship). I had the hope that if we hadn’t qualified that the host country (Turkey) would actually invite Argentina to the World Championship based on our recent good results. But instead now, we are calm because we have qualified. The players that we had in that team were good, perhaps not as good as the ones that weren’t there. But they were good. It’s a good team. It’s a little bit like the Spanish national team. You might be missing one or two players and the team might feel their absence, but they always manage to find a replacement because the core of the team is always there.

FIBA: You have watched many games. Is there a player that you identify with, that reminds you of you when you played?

RICARDO GONZALES: In terms of position, Juan Carlos Navarro of Spain reminds me of me because I had the same role in the Argentina national team as he has for Spain.

FIBA: What was your opinion of the EuroBasket?

RICARDO GONZALES: I thought the quality of play was marvelous. Europeans and South Americans may have 20 quality players, and the Americans might have 100. But in a game, it’s five against five. It goes to show how basketball has a level playing field across the world and that has been proven time and time again. Before, the synonym of basketball was the United States whereas now you see for example a team like Serbia, so young and so talented – today we can say there are a lot of synonyms for basketball.

FIBA: Did you remain involved with basketball in any way?

RICARDO GONZALEZ: I have been linked to the club where I finished my career. I was coach, which I did for many years. I am an executive at the club. There are many basketball clubs in Buenos Aires. Many are like neighborhood clubs but most have a lack of resources. Our club, for example, is not lacking in resources. We have enough, but not too much. It’s sufficient. We have a gym in an area called Palermo. The important thing is that these clubs are able to help the community. That is our main aim. In Buenos Aires, it is very difficult to maintain a basketball neighborhood club. Before, it used to be easier. If you look at it, the majority of players now come from the interior of the country because the big cities are aggressive and the boys don’t go to the clubs as we used to when we were young. They have other things to do whereas in the small villages in the interior, children still go from school to the club. All of the players that we have now, they come out of small clubs.

FIBA: Is there a player that you admire in the national team?

RICARDO GONZALES: Besides the fact that he doesn’t seem to have injuries, Luis Scola has such a will. He lives basketball with such intensity that it is spectacular. I remember that in my time, we used to train three or four times a week. We would go to the club on the Saturday and on the Sunday you would play the game. He reminds me of that kind of player, bearing in mind that he is a professional and that he needs to look after himself. I think he is a player that wherever he is invited, he’ll go and play.

FIBA: What kind of emotions do you feel when you watch a game of basketball?

RICARDO GONZALES: I love it. It makes me feel as though I am there, playing. I love to see them play because the majority of players are very humble. They give everything on the court. In my times, it wasn’t possible to spend a lot of time on basketball because we had to work and you could only devote two or three hours a day, if you could. They are very fortunate to be able to spend all day doing what they love doing, which is the most important thing. They are doing what they love. That is a privilege and fortunately, they are able to take advantage.

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