Monday, December 11, 2023

Chus Mateo: a surviving profession

Chus Mateo This Sunday he faces his past: Unicaja. A club in which he won two titles as assistant coach -Copa del Rey and ACB-, but from which he left through the back door more than a decade ago. A story that has nothing to do with the moment he lives now as first coach of Real Madridwhich he has turned into the best in Europe thanks to a absolutely overwhelming start to the season (19-0) which has continued after defeating AS Monaco (91-73).

Precisely, the white coach’s journey has not been a bed of roses. In fact, all possible thorns have been found since he became the first coach of Real Madrid, in the summer of 2022, after the dismissal of Pablo Laso, of whom he had been an assistant since his arrival at the club. There he learned, collaborated in shaping an imperial team in Spain and now leads it against everything and everyone.

Who was going to tell Chus Mateo during various phases of last season that he was going to continue leading Madrid 23/24? Because if something has not been missing these months, it has been pools with possible substitutes. He has probably been the coach in Europe who has been followed the most closely. And that in his first year he won the Super Cup and a historic Euroleague after overcoming a 0-2 deficit with match ball for the Serbians in Belgrade and a last basket to remember Llull. Despite everything, the summer has been very difficult because the elimination in the Cup against Unicaja or 3-0 in the League final against Barçathe eternal rival.

Director of an army of stars

Mateo had to endure criticism in almost every defeat last year. He stuck it out and this past summer He improved his squad with the arrival of Facundo Campazzo. The point is that, with a small tweak, the team is now a complete plane in which the approach and role of the former composer is being fundamental.

The Real Madrid coach talks with some of his players. ACBPHOTO

He has known how to combine the best of everything he has to create a team that no rival has yet beaten. He has empowered the Tavares, Campazzo, Musa, Hezonja, Deck, Poirier and Yabusele. Control the Rudy, Llull, Sergio Rodríguez and Causeur. While gradually integrating young people Hugo González, Ndiaye and Diagne at the same time that he is on his way to recovering the best version of Alberto Abalde and wait for the return of Carlos Alocen.

Painful goodbye from Unicaja

His present at Real Madrid has nothing to do with his farewell to Unicaja. As Scariolo’s second coach (04/05, 05/06 and 08/09 seasons) he experienced the glory with the Copa del Rey and the ACB. He went to Fuenlabrada, also as Salva Maldonado’s assistant, and his return to Malaga, now as the top leader of the bench, did not end well.

Chus Mateo, as first coach of Unicaja. Gregory Torres

He arrived in January 2011 to replace the fired Aíto García Reneses. In that second half of the season he barely managed to qualify Unicaja for the play off. The big problems came the following year. At a radically different moment than now, he left dismissed through the back door, after posting a record of 1-14.

Now, with the aim of remaining undefeated, they will seek to put the cherry on top of the week with a victory against Unicaja. In short, an example of a survivor who is now indisputable based on effort, work… and results.


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