After reaching the final of the China World Cup in 2019, Luis Scola traveled back in time with an emotional reflection in which he embraced the 20 most famous years in the history of Argentine basketball. An album with 14 medals, from the silver of the FIBA Americas of Puerto Rico in 1999 to the podium of Beijing. “It gives me a lot of anguish when I talk about 99, Indianapolis 2002 … In this team there are many boys who were not born when I was playing. Many took me for crazy when I said that they reminded me of our beginnings, but it has been shown that I was not “, explained the captain, between nostalgia, anguish for his years, now 41, and the proud tutelage of the new litter.
Scola served as a guide in the exciting journey of the Golden Generation to the vibrant relay of players that follows in their footsteps with the Albiceleste and in the NBA. Facundo Campazzo, Gabriel Deck and Luca Vildoza were there, continuing these days of the Argentine saga in the American Mecca. A list of 15 protagonists inaugurated at the beginning of the century by Rubén Wolkowyski and Pepe Sánchez, and later joined by Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino, Andrés Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Walter Herrmann, Scola himself, Pablo Prigioni, Nicolás Laprovittola, Nicolás Brussino and Patricio Garino.
“In the NBA they have always had a very good experience with Argentine players,” reflects Andrés Nocioni, before explaining that the arrivals of Campazzo to Denver, Deck to Oklahoma and Vildoza to the Knicks has generated “a very important media and social impact. ” in Argentina. “It is a new boom for our basketball. I really enjoy them, ”he says. “We set the profile of the competitive Argentine player, hard-working, fighter, with team spirit … Those values are highly valued and this global NBA knows them well. These guys have reinforced that trend, even against the odds. It was said that it would be a long time until there were Argentines in the best league in the world again and there they are. Taking on the great challenge of the NBA ”, continues Chapu. “The World Cup in China was a great turning point to forge this leap because there they demonstrated and demonstrated that they are at the first level,” reviews the former Madrid and Baskonia player, with nine years of experience in the US league between Chicago, Sacramento and Philadelphia
Parallel paths, from training in neighborhood clubs, to the forge in Europe and the journey to childhood dreams in the NBA, to measure themselves with the best, with their idols, and with the path of their elders. “All part of an innate talent, that is not manufactured. But then you have to take the right path and the Golden Generation marked it well. They taught them where to go, professionalism, sporting behavior as an essential support for their qualities ”, says Leandro Ramella, coach of Peñarol and trainer of Campazzo in Mar del Plata and Vildoza in Quilmes.
“In Argentina, the way to transcend and manifest is in the arts and sports. And in basketball we have found two generations with the same competitive gene despite their differences “, analyzes Silvio Santander, coach of San Lorenzo de Almagro, who worked with Deck in Quimsa, between 2009 and 2016.” The Golden Generation, in addition to being physical marvels, it was a round group. One had been born in each position: Pepe Sánchez and Prigioni as bases, Ginobili and Delfino on one side, Chapu as forward, Luis Scola and Fabricio Oberto on the inside … ”, lists Santander. “If they had wanted to design it, it wouldn’t have come out so perfect. In this litter, the talent is more sneaky around the perimeter. Campazzo, Vildoza, Deck and also Laprovittola are pure talent. With the virtue of respecting the competitive gene of their elders. They represent their country as something sacred ”, emphasizes the technician.
Campazzo is already an idol in Denver, for charisma, dedication and revolutions on the court, with just 65 games on the road (22 minutes, 6.1 points and 3.6 assists on average); Deck has already started his valuable quartermaster in Oklahoma (10 games, with 21.2 minutes, 8.4 points and 4 rebounds) and Vildoza is already working to earn the trust of Tom Thibodeau in the Knicks. Like Nocioni, Santander speaks of “revolution for basketball, in an eminently footballing country” and anticipates more names for the future. “Leandro Bolmaro [en los planes de Minesotta para la próxima temporada], Juan Ignacio Marcos, Francisco Farabello, Francisco Caffaro, Fausto Ruesga, Juan Francisco Fernández, Marco Giordano… We are healthy for the next few years. Medals cannot be guaranteed, but there will be competitiveness ”, completes the technician.
“It is a pride that Argentine basketball continues to generate talent for the NBA, for Europe and for other parts of the world,” Nocioni takes up. “It is a moment of exodus: to Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico… For a question of the national economy. And that movement generates growth because it is not the same to play a local league, where one is an idol and is consolidated, than to have to rebuild his path ”, completes Chapu. “The neighborhood club, the social club, in which children start training from the age of five, is our great quarry. It is the fuel to continue developing talent. I don’t know if they will continue to come out en masse, but players will continue to arrive in Europe and represent the national team very well, ”adds Santander. “The current generation has overwhelmed us with forecasts. They were more convinced than anyone. They showed an incredible personality. Their elders taught them to believe themselves capable, to have the mental toughness with which to face any challenge ”, Ramella closes.