Everyone knew it was going to be Che. Not only because of his enormous capacity, his personality, his stamp, his achievements, but because he was in the plans of the Argentine Basketball Confederation (CAB) since Fabián Borro began his administration. What happened this Tuesday is that the news was officially reported. The output of Sergio Hernandez What selector he opened the door and his disembarkation made sense. His figure represents a lot, his career implies new challenges. Nestor “Che” Garcia he will take the reins of the world runner-up team and will try to maintain the identity of a team, although he will seek to put his stamp on it.
A clear course change. The efforts of Rubén Magnano, Julio Lamas and Sergio Hernández, occupied two and a half decades of the selection. Only three technicians between 1997 and 2021. García’s landing is another air, but not by style, but this designation is a movement with more ties of political power. Che has all the merits to be the national technical director, he has a proven track record, and he was Lamas’ assistant in the national team (Pre-Olympic of Mar del Plata in 2011). His arrival is a clear signal from the president of the CAB to show in fact that his mandate has begun. It has been around for almost two years, but between the pandemic and the need to bring a harmonious closure to the previous management process, the weighty decisions had been made to wait.
Electric, energetic, demanding, this 56-year-old from Bahia is a true globetrotter. He directed in nine different countries (Argentina, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain and the Dominican Republic) and in the last World Cup he hit the Dominican Republic. In just 6 months of work he managed to get the team into the round of 16. “Thanks to the influence of Julio Toro, who is my teacher, I always wanted to develop my career internationally. That is why I have been in four teams. I was an assistant in Puerto Rico, I directed Uruguay, I was an assistant in Argentina with Julio [Lamas], and then Venezuela. It was always like that, because I wanted to learn from different cultures, “he said. in a talk with LA NACION.
At 23, he began his journey, first in teams and then accompanied Toro to the Puerto Rican team. There he received his nickname: Che. He was the “son” of Flor Meléndez, another mythical coach, in Puerto Rico, who baptized him that way: “A little bit all Argentines consider us Che Guevara,” García said a few years ago.
The influence of Che García in the selection of Argentina was much more important than that of one more assistant of Lamás. He was the manager of the alternate teams when the members of the Golden Generation focused on more important objectives. Under his command, Argentina won the South American in Chaco in 2012, while Lamas prepared the rest of the squad for the London Olympics. The bitter taste for García, at that time, was that of the Olympic event. As the positions for the coaching staff in the Olympic event are limited, Lamas chose to give space to Sergio Hernández and Che was left out of the technical staff.
But he was going to have revenge. In Venezuela he inscribed his name on fire. He managed to win the Liga de las América with Guaros de Lara and then, as national coach, he won the 2015 Pre-Olympic final, defeating no less than Argentina. “Venezuela was impressive, from all angles. In sports, we won two South American national teams (2014 and 2016), the Pre-Olympic and then the Liga de las Américas with Guaros (2016), all in the span of two years. The social explosion that occurred in Venezuela with these achievements I never imagined ”, Garcia counted. But the most important thing is that he arrived in Rio 2016 as the main DT and took the thorn out of directing in the maximum competition that this sport has.
Che’s last jobs were in Fuenlabrada in Spain and San Lorenzo in the National League. He always said that in his work he needs the permanent adrenaline of the competition. Even in most of his projects he alternated in his work as DT in the national team and in clubs. This time, he will be Argentina’s full-time coach. How it will respond to idle times between calls is anyone’s guess. Although it is clear that the current knockout format in basketball, with international windows, will allow you to have a little more action.
“At last it happened… This is a dream and, at the same time, a great responsibility. The biggest of my career. That is why I want to thank all those who have allowed me to get here and the trust of President Fabián Borro and the Board of Directors of the Confederation. And also announce that mine will not be a personalist leadership. It will go through listening, composing, continuing and surrounding myself with the best. A new cycle begins in Argentine basketball, always respecting a legacy. I am very eager and excited to go for the big goal that Argentina remains in the elite of world basketball, ”said Che García on the CAB website.
It is a different scenario. Garcia’s relationship with the players will be, initially, under the gaze of all. He was never a technician who had problems in the relationship with the schools. Quite the opposite. And the runner-up squad in the world has nothing against Garcia, of course. But this time it is known that the members of the selection made force for the continuity of Hernández. The relationship of some of them with Borro is not good. And García is the DT chosen by Borro.
Che’s experience, who led 21 teams throughout his career, is his most powerful tool for group management. He directed in five teams: Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Puerto Rico, as an assistant, and the Dominican Republic. He had a particular beginning, because his first steps as a coach he did professionally in Puerto Rico, in 1989, at the helm of Gigantes de Carolina. He is quite a character who leaves his mark in each place.
“This appointment is the most important in my long career because one thing is to represent the country as a foreigner and another is to be inside. I have had to play against Argentina, listen to the anthem of my country. They are very strong things. I am very Argentine, in everything. And I feel that this recognition they give me is more for what I was outside and now I have to ratify it inside. And we will try to do it in this new stage ”, said Che.
His life is full of anecdotes and experiences, from a jet ski accident in Saudi Arabia that had him bedridden for a month, with Al Ahli fans praying in the corridors of the hospital for him to heal, to the peculiarity of telling with the “help” of the Gorilla, the mascot of the Halcones de Xalapa, from Mexico, to tie a game to go to overtime.
He will make his debut as national team coach on November 25, at home, against Paraguay, at the beginning of the qualifying windows for the 2023 World Cup. “Argentina had the coach they needed at each stage and now it’s my turn. I will replace one of the greats on this continent [por Sergio Hernández], someone very recognized in the world, who made an impressive career in the national team and to whom we must be grateful ”, concluded Néstor García, the man of a thousand stories.