Argentina's Hernandez arrives in the BCL as Casademont Zaragoza turn over a new leaf
ZARAGOZA (Spain) - Casademont Zaragoza announced this week that they had agreed with Sergio Hernandez to hand the reins of the team to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 silver medalist , after both the Spanish club and the Argentinian coach realized it was time for a radical change.
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Hernandez, who had only very briefly worked in Europe as far back as in 2002, will have to step down as Argentina head coach up until at least the end of the current season, when his initial contract with Zaragoza terminates. It's obvious this choice represents nothing short of a crucial life decision in his case.
"I've been waiting to enter one of the best leagues in the world as the Spanish ACB for many years," the 57-year-old said in an official statement issued by the Argentinian federation (CABB).
It is a good moment now [for Hernandez to arrive] because the BCL is a very competitive and demanding competition and if we make the changes that we need, we have a team that can fight for the trophy - Nico Brussino
"In this case [I go to] an historic club like Zaragoza which has sporting culture, in a basketball-loving city, an interesting project and a very worthy roster. It is a combination of factors I have been wanting for some time and now has presented itself."
As for Zaragoza, the decision to turn to Hernandez signals an important shift. The Group D contenders had chosen in the summer Diego Ocampo, a tactician renowned in Spain for his work in developing players, as their new head coach.
But the Aragon club kicked off their 2020-21 Liga Endesa campaign on a dismal 2-6 record and escaped with a narrow win at newcomers Pszczólka Start Lublin in their Basketball Champions League season debut.
"I believe he has the capacity, knowledge and experience necessary to face this start to the season we have had and I think he will help us reverse this situation," said Zaragoza forward Nico Brussino, who has played for Hernandez first at Peñarol and then at the Argentinian national team.
"It is a good moment now [for Hernandez to arrive] because the BCL is a very competitive and demanding competition and if we make the changes that we need, we have a team that can fight for the trophy," Brussino told Argentinian website basquetplus.
Hernandez's first stint at the helm of the Argentinian national team lasted from 2005 to 2010 and he led the 'albiceleste' to a fourth-place finish at the 2006 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the bronze medal in the Beijing Games, in 2008.
He returned to the role in 2015 and led the team to gold in the Panamerican Games, shortly before their amazing run to the Final of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, where Argentina lost to Spain.
The new Zaragoza playcaller has also won six Argentinian league championships (three titles with Peñarol, two with Estudiantes and one with Boca Juniors) and has been named Coach of the Year in Argentina on four occasions.
Hernandez has to step down as Argentina head coach until the end of his contract with Zaragoza, in June, in accordance with ACB league regulations.