Iberostar Tenerife's San Miguel sings praises of Basketball Champions League
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA (Basketball Champions League) - Iberostar Tenerife have made their mark in the inaugural season of the Basketball Champions League, a competition the club will attempt to win at the end of April when it hosts the Final Four.
One of keys to the team's success has been the steady, hard-nosed play of veteran point guard Rodrigo San Miguel. No stranger to European competition, the 32-year-old Spaniard has told the Basketball Champions League website that the competition has exceeded expectations.
What have been your impressions of the Basketball Champions League, Rodrigo?
I had played in European competition in the two years I was in Valencia. I'm pleasantly surprised by how the Champions League has functioned, by the level of the competition. We've played against historic teams like Cibona in the first round, Strasbourg, ASVEL. For a team like Tenerife that had not played in European competition for 30 years, this is something beautiful to experience and to have reached the Final Four is magical.
What had you envisioned in terms of competitiveness?
We didn't know what to expect at the beginning but the level has been very high. We have seen great basketball throughout the season and of course, we have been a part of it.
Could you comment on the overall organization?
It has surpassed expectations. We can't say anything negative. It has been dynamic. How the first phase worked and the fact that the teams that finished first had a reward of skipping the last 16 phase, everything had incentives. It was very well organized.
Why have Iberostar Tenerife had such a terrific season?
There have been many factors for a team that was initially not designed to go this far, to do so this season. Firstly, we don't have any stars but we have a good group of players with quality, experience, with many years as professionals, that have come together. The rapport between us is great and there is a good base from recent years. The chemistry in the changing room is very good. As the season has gone by, our ambition has grown and we believe that anything is possible. We all desire to be up there and achieve important things.
Your play has been crucial, especially on the defensive end.
I think at Tenerife people value my work. I have the support of the fans. They value the dirty work I do, which numbers don't show. The coaching staff values my work because I get to play a lot of minutes. I'm very happy with my role and all that I do is on the basis of what the team needs.
San Miguel's defense is second to none
What has surprised nearly everyone has been your staying power at or near the top of the Spanish league. Some might have feared additional commitments in Europe would have worked against you in the Liga Endesa.
I think for both the players and the coaches it (playing in Europe) has helped. It has been useful to us but also to the staff to have everyone involved in the team rotation, having minutes. It has helped the team improve and grow. It has all come together, the fact that we have started well in the league and then not have to wait another week to play again and lose that positive feeling. We always had something to look forward to, to compete on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and for us it has given us confidence to grow in both competitions. We wanted more games as the season progressed because things were going well.
So playing in Europe has been viewed as a big success no matter what happens at the Final Four?
For the club and for our sponsor, Iberostar, it has been great. They pointed strongly to playing in Europe and it has gone great. For Iberostar, a hotel chain, to have taken their name across Europe and shown that they are backing basketball, it has been very important. On top of it, we have done a great job, so all the better.
I have followed the Basketball Champions League on Instagram and Twitter. I've looked at reviews and videos, although I haven't watched a full game but I've monitored the results. Because of the games, I haven't seen live streaming, but I see that they put up the results and information very fast and I think it's great for fans to be able to monitor things instantly.
What's been the best moment in the competition for you?
When we finished the second leg against ASVEL and got a ticket to the Final Four, that was the most special. We did it in front of our fans and we knew that game was very complicated, that the French champions were coming, that we had fought very hard there (in France) against a physical team, but to finish the game, win and go through was great.
You had also had a key win at Strasbourg in the Group Phase.
Our game at Strasbourg was a very important step in our season to see what could happen in the future. We wanted to be first in the group and we had to win there, in a tough arena. We didn't play well and it was a complicated game but in the last five minutes, we were fantastic. After that win, we were aware we could finish first in our group and that we could be a serious candidate until the end of the competition.
Txus Vidorreta, the coach, has pulled the right strings for your team.
A great part of our success has been his. When he arrived last season, we were in a delicate position but he reverted the situation and we ended the campaign with a strong finish. We have had the same dynamic this season. His enthusiasm, his determination, his will to improve and be better and fight against the best has helped us. He has transmitted the ambition to reach the top and he is a big part of the team's success.
Vidoretta has done outstanding work at Iberostar Tenerife
Iberostar Tenerife will host the Final Four and take on Umana Reyer Venezia. Banvit go up against AS Monaco in the other Semi-Final. Who are the favorites?
It's hugely important for us to play at home. To have most of the fans at the stadium supporting us is crucial, especially in such an important competition. But we have to take it one step at a time. We have seen the Cup, it was here, and it's beautiful and we really hope we can lift it. There is no main candidate. I think all four teams have been solid throughout the season, deserve to be here and all have chances. I don't think I can chose a favorite.