On Monday 4th July, Real Madrid Baloncesto made the official announcement, having reached the decision to part ways with head coach Pablo Laso. This conclusion to his tenure was “solely and exclusively for medical reasons,” insisted the club. Laso had suffered a heart attack in early June, while his team was competing in the Spanish ACB Playoffs against Bitci Baskonia in the semifinals.
Laso was hospitalized and received intensive care treatment for two days, before being released. However, despite returning home and having made a positive recovery, Laso was not allowed to coach the team in the ACB Finals, citing what they considered to be an obvious risk to his health. Real Madrid went on to beat FC Barcelona by 3 games to 1 in the ACB Finals, under the interim leadership of assistant coach Jesús Mateo.
At the time, there was a huge outpouring of support and best wishes for Laso, who had become such an immensely popular and successful head coach at Real Madrid. There were even words of encouragement from Pedro Sánchez, the Prime Minister of Spain, who played basketball in his youth and is an avid follower of the game. Although he recovered after several days, clouds of doubt remained over the continuation of Laso.
For their part, although Laso had expressed the desire to continue his job leading the basketball team, Real Madrid sought various medical consultations before deciding to end his tenure. Although understanding of “the sadness this decision has caused our head coach” following the decision, “not even Real Madrid is above the health of anyone” and for this reason, it was “a risk this institution could not avoid” given their concerns.
Despite those genuine health concerns, the decision taken by Real Madrid was met with widespread criticism in the Spanish press, and even amongst players he has coached. Speaking with AS shortly after the news was announced, popular Real Madrid player and Spanish national team captain Rudy Fernández expressed his disappointment. “Maybe they could have handled the situation better. Pablo set the benchmark for Madrid and made the club greater,” he lamented.
Following his original appointment as head coach in 2011, Laso brought a clear identity and sense of determination to Real Madrid Baloncesto, finding the winning formula the club and fans demanded. During his tenure, the team won the Liga ACB six time, the Copa del Rey six times, and the Supercopa de España six times. His crowning glories included two EuroLeague triumphs in 2015 and 2018, along with the FIBA Intercontinental victory in 2015.
Laso departs Real Madrid having firmly written his name in the history books, regarded to have been one of the best head coaches in the club’s history, matching many of the accolades achieved by Lolo Sainz between 1975 and 1989. The most successful head coach in Real Madrid basketball history remains legendary Pedro Ferrándiz, who sadly passed away on 7th July 2022 aged 93. He led the club to unprecedented success in the 1960s and 1970s.
Now the mantle has passed on to Jesús Mateo, the new Real Madrid Baloncesto head coach will be tasked with continuing a legacy of success, which is deeply ingrained in the very fabric of this proud European basketball institution. Following a campaign in which the club also won the UEFA Champions League in football, the basketball team will be expected to mount another serious challenge for the EuroLeague title.
Having won the last two consecutive EuroLeague titles, Turkish side Anadolu Efes head into the 2022-23 season as favorites with most of the prominent sportsbooks. However, after narrowly lost by 58-57 in the 2022 Final, Real Madrid Baloncesto will undoubtedly fancy their chances. This makes following the latest guide to online sports betting via Asiabet all the more worthwhile, as they cover everything from where to find the best value basketball odds and promotions, to which sites offer the broadest range of markets.
Ahead of the next campaign, new head coach Mateo is “proud and overjoyed” to be leading Real Madrid Baloncesto. “It’s a challenge and a big responsibility,” he acknowledged, having officially ascended to the top basketball job at the club on 5th July. His aim is for the team to “compete right up until the last moment for any trophy, battling until the end and fighting against adversity,” eager to bring continued success.