Tuesday, December 5, 2023

“When I needed something, the city of Malaga was always there”

At 29 years old, Alberto Díaz begins to harvest what he has planted for years. To the 2017 Eurocup and last season’s Copa del Rey with the Los Guindos Club, his particular showcase also includes the 2021 Eurobasketball with the Spanish team. A national team, the family, that will fight next July to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics, the sporting dream to fulfill of our 2023 Sports Award.

What does receiving the Award from La Opinión de Málaga mean to you?

It is a true honor that they thought of me to receive this award. I am very happy that La Opinión de Málaga gives me this award.

Do you still think it’s all a dream? He has won the Eurocup in ’17, the Eurobasket in ’21, the Copa del Rey in 2023, his participation in the World Cup with the national team… Did you think that his career was going to be marked with so many successes?

No. It is something that I dreamed of and that I longed for and those dreams have become reality. I never thought she could have these successes, this career, today.

Alberto, do you dream of playing in the Olympic Games with the Spanish team? Next year Paris 2024 will be held, but first we will have to go through a pre-Olympic pre-Olympic that looks like it will be very hard, just a couple of weeks before the competition begins and practically without rest after the ACB finals.

Yes, yes, it would be a dream. The desire of every athlete is to attend, participate and compete in the Olympic Games. First Spain has to qualify and then I have to become part of the team, because having a place is very complicated due to the level of the teammates there are, and I am not going to deny that for me it would be a dream to get that place and enjoy some Olympics.

Alberto Diaz receives his award. Alex Zea

If we talk about Malaga basketball players, the fan cites Berni Rodríguez, Carlos Cabezas and also already cites Alberto Díaz. What do you think?

Well, Carlos and Berni are two legends here in Malaga. What I do feel is that in my city they have recognized me at all times and have always taken care of me. When I needed something he was always there. I don’t know if I’m a prophet or not, but I do know that in Malaga they have always opened the doors to everything for me.

He has recently signed a renewal with Unicaja until 2028, when he will turn 34 years old. Do you see yourself ending his sporting career at the Malaga club?

Would be a dream. Something that I have always dreamed of, something that I have always wanted and I hope it is like that. In professional sports everything is very complicated and you never know, but I would be very excited to finish my sports career at Unicaja.

On the court he is what is called a defensive specialist. Where does that quality come from when, above all, in modern basketball, scorers or pivots who intimidate stand out?

I really do not know. I think it’s something innate, since I was little I was good at defending and with that aspect of my game I contributed to helping the team. I think what it comes down to at the end of the day is finding something where you feel comfortable and always looking out for the team.

Alberto, with the great season that was had last year in Unicaja and the renewal of practically the entire block of players, what can be expected from the team in the season that has just begun? Can we stand up to Madrid and Barça, like last year? Maybe win the European competition, the BCL? Do we have to be more ambitious with the team’s objectives, with the sporting objectives?

I am one of those who thinks that the ambition has to be the same. We have formed a very ambitious team, eager to launch the team and fight for everything. It is evident that doing the same as last year will be very complicated, but we are all convinced that we want to continue improving as players, as a team and above all try to help the club to continue growing. Expectations are very high.

Are you still in the NBA? You have had it as your goal at some point in your career. What do you think of American basketball compared to European basketball?

I have had times when I have followed the NBA more than now. It is a reality that any basketball player has the NBA in mind, especially when you show that you are at a good level. European and American basketball are very different, with different game systems and, above all, very different players. I think that Europe is getting closer to the level of the NBA, but it is true that the way of playing is totally different.

Which players do you admire? Who would you like to play against and haven’t done so yet? Which player has been the most difficult to defend and who is the best player in recent basketball history for Alberto Díaz?

Very complicated to answer these questions. I really admire players like Sergi Llull and Marcelinho Huertas, who always do different things. If we talk about complicated defenses I have to mention again Llull, Campazzo, Schroeder (the German point guard who was proclaimed world champion a month ago) and Luka Doncic. I have the hope of one day playing against Stephen Curry, and the three players who I believe are now at the pinnacle of basketball are precisely three Europeans who play in the NBA: Jokic, Antetokoumpo and Doncic.


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