Official: Sergio Scariolo returns to Spanish hotseat

Spain have put their championship-winning coach Sergio Scariolo back in charge of the national team for EuroBasket 2015.

The 54-year-old Italian, who guided the national side to titles at EuroBaskets in 2009 and 2011 and a runners-up finish at the 2012 Olympics, is to be unveiled at a press conference in Madrid at 1pm on Thursday.

“Coach Scariolo begins working on preparations for this summer’s very important EuroBasket with immediate effect,” a brief statement by FEB said, before making note of the upcoming press conference.

The Spanish side, still licking its wounds following its Quarter-Final exit from the FIBA Basketball World Cup, will look to rebound this summer and qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

They will compete in a very difficult Group B at EuroBasket, in Berlin, against Serbia, Italy, Turkey, Iceland and Germany.

The top four sides will progress to the knockout stage. with the two teams who ultimately reach the final clinching places in the 2016 Olympics.

Spain have not been in a hurry to name a replacement for Juan Antonio Orenga, Scariolo’s former assistant who coached the team for the past two summers.

Orenga steered a Spanish side that was missing Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Felipe Reyes and Serge Ibaka to a third-place finish at EuroBasket 2013, yet with a squad at full strength last year, he presided over arguably the biggest disappointment in the history of the national side.

France, despite missing Tony Parker and Alexis Ajinca, stunned Spain, 65-52 in the last eight of the World Cup in Madrid.

Scariolo, who is fluent in Spanish after coaching club sides in Spain for many years, was a natural choice for the job because he is currently not at the helm of a club.

Spain’s options were limited as the coaches of teams in the domestic league, the Liga Endesa, are not allowed to wear two hats and lead the national side at the same time.

There had been plenty of speculation that Scariolo was poised for a return. In anticipation of the announcement, Pau Gasol had already given an informal welcome to the Italian tactician on Wednesday.

“It appears that in the coming days Sergio Scariolo will be named national team coach,” the Spanish superstar wrote in his column in Spanish daily Marca.

“I think he is the ideal man for the job.

“He knows the team and the players well and with him in charge we’ve achieved success many a times.”

By FIBA Europe