Speed has always been the core element that characterized the Spanish basketball. Spanish basketball had several players of high speed, intelligence, with high technical training.
The greatest moment of Spanish Basketball: The 2006 World Championship.
What prevented the Spaniards from conquering a trophy at an important competition before the latter year?
- The frequent lack of effectiveness in their game, though it has been spectacular and appealing to the neutral viewer several times.
- The defeatism and lack of self-confidence, which was exposed against the USSR and Yugoslavia – the great powers of the sport in Europe for decades.
- Losing history in the finals, which was burdening the players. Filled them with anxiety, so the performance of some of them was under the expected.
The First Steps
The first game of the Spanish National Basketball Team was held on April 15, 1935 in Madrid against Portugal. The game, which ended with a victory of the Spanish team 33-12.A friendly preparation for the 1935 pan-European championship in Geneva, which was the first to be held in history.
In this particular pan-European championship, Spain was victorious against both Belgium (25-17 as the final result) and Czechoslovakia(21-17). Spain reached the final ending up being defeated by Latvia 24-18.
The composition of this historic first Spanish distinction was consisted of:
Rafael Martin, Emilio Alonso, Pedro Alonso, Juan Carbonell, Armando Maunier, Fernando Muscat, Cayetano Ortega, Rafael Ruano, Coach: Mariano Manent.
The enthusiasm for the silver medal was great, and the aspirations for a new distinction turned to the 1936 Olympic Games that would be held in Berlin. The civil war, however, killed nearly every sporting activity in the country, so Spain was forced to withdraw from the games a few days before their start. Since then and for the entire 1940s Spanish basketball team did not participated in any major event, so it rightly went into obscurity.
In this decade, the Spanish national team was present in two major events. Spain’s first world championship event came in 1950, which the former finished ninth in a total of ten teams in the Argentine World Championship. The players who participated in that world championship were:
Ignacio Pinedo, Arturo Imedio, Jaime Basso, Andres Oller, Alvaro Salvadores, Juan Dalmau, Julio Gamez, Eduardo Kucharsky, Angel Gonzalez, Angel Lozano, Domingo Barcenas, Juan Ferrando, Coach: Micael Paul Rutzgis.
The 1959 Pan-European Championship was the second major event in which Spain took part in, which re-emerged after 1935, taking the fifteenth place in a total of seventeen teams. In 1951, Spain took the second place in the Mediterranean Games. In 1955 Spain won the trophy, in a tournament that did not reach the glamor of the Olympic Games and the World Championship or even the Pan-European Championship. It was obvious that Spain, even in tentative steps, made its reappearance on the international stage of basketball.
The next decade of 1960 confirmed that vision. Spain participated for the first time in its history at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, taking the 14th place in a total of sixteen teams. The composition of the 1960s team:
Agustin Bertomeu, Jose Nora, Alfonso Martinez, Joaquin Ensenat, Santiago Navarro, Josep Lluis Cortes, Jorge Guillen, Emiliano Rodriguez, Jesus Codina, Miguel Angel, Gonzalez Lazaro, Francesc Buscato, Juan Martos, Coach: Eduardo Kucharsky.
In 1968 at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Spain got the seventh place, the best ever in the most relevant basketball tournament, internationally. The composition of the 1968 team was:
Clifford Luyk, Emiliano Rodriguez, Francesc Buscato, Vicente Ramos, Lorenzo Alozen, Enrique Margall, Toncho Nava, Jose Luis Sagi-Vela, Alfonso Martinez, Chus Codina, Juan Antonio Martinez Arroyo, Luis Carlos Santiago Zabaleta.
Over the course of this decade, Spain participated in all five European Championships held, the best moment being the fifth place in 1969, the best that the country took since 1935. The positions Spanish Basketball Team occupied: 1961 (13th), 1963 (7th), 1965 (11th), 1967 (10th), 1969 (5th) The 1969 team was consisted of:
Glifford Luyk, Emiliano Rodriguez, Francesc Buscato, Lorenzo Alozen, Vicente Ramos, Toncho Nava, Enrique Margall, Jose Luis Sagi-Vela, Chus Codina, Cristobal Rodriguez, Alfonso Martinez, Victor Manuel Escorial, Coach: Antonio Diaz Miguel.
On the contrary, Spain did not manage to be present in any of the two world championships that were held. Since 1965, the team was under the management of the coach Antonio Diaz Miguel, a man who has contributed the most to the development of the national team. Antonio led the team to increasing positive performances in several tournaments his team participated. Finally, making it a “traditional force” in the field of the sport. He stood on the bench until 1992!
The beginning of the decade Spain was excluded from the 1970 World Championship, seventh at the 1971 European championship and in the eleventh place in the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
The highlight of the decade was the team’s participation in the final of the 1973 European championship, which was held in Barcelona. It started with a defeat by the Yugoslavs in the first phase of the group stage with 65-59, but then continued collecting only with victories: against Bulgaria 85-69, Italy 75-66, France 85-80 and Greece 86-74.
In the semifinals Spain shock the world and defeated the favorite USSR with a surprising 80-76 victory reaching the final for a second time in its history after 1935. There Spain was defeated by the Yugoslavs with the 78-67 final result.
The latter runner-ups started their own dynasty in the European basketball, taking the silver medal. The players of the second silver medal in the history of Spanish basketball were:
Clifford Luyk, Wayne Brabender, Nino Buscato, Vicente Ramos, Rafael Rullan, Manuel Flores, Luis Miguel Santillana, Carmelo Cabrera, Jose Luis Sagi-Vega, Gonzalo Sagi-Vela, Miguel Angel Estrada, Enrique Margall, Coach: Antonio Diaz Miguel.
Another great moment was the fifth place in the 1974 World Championship in Puerto Rico, the best ever place in this tournament. In 1972, Juan Antonio Corbalan, one of the best basketball players, showcased not only the Spanish, but also the European basketball and became the starting point for the appearance of other great players who led Spain up high. The last good moment of the decade was the fourth place in the 1975 European Championship. Spain did not qualify for the 1976 Olympic Games and the 1978 World Championship, while in the 1977 and 1979 pan-European championships it finished in ninth and sixth place respectively.
Read the second part of the history of the Spanish National Basketball Team here.