DArío Brizuela is one of the players who has pulled Unicaja’s car in what was a complicated start to 2022. The typesetter player attends MARCA and analyzes the change that has taken place in the Los Guindos club with the arrival of Ibon Navarro . At the gates of an important month for Unicaja with up to eight games in four weeks. The keys to the typesetter’s reaction from the eyes of the Basque mamba, one of the Spanish players with the best individual season.
Ask. The film has changed something… High?
Answer. Perhaps it is too much, but we are very happy with how the game against Fuenlabrada went, an important reprieve, but we are aware of the situation we still have and we have to continue
P. But there is already another environment in Unicaja, right?
R. Ibon’s idea has been to solve the most important problems that he considers: defense, rebounding and controlling the open field. And in attack he wants us to play with more freedom, to run as much as we can and from there build the basketball that Ibon likes. I think we have a template that fits very well with his ideas and is the beginning of what he has asked us to do. The team will surely improve as the days go by.
P. Ibon has landed on his feet at the club…
R. I agree with the idea that Ibon Navarro has transmitted to us from the beginning. In order to win matches, you have to do things well; and the defensive work that we all did was excellent and the idea is that: doing them as we should, the chances of winning are greater. The game against Fuenlabrada is important after the situation of recent weeks. Happy with the work and the result.
P. I imagine that the departure of Katsikaris has not been easy…
R. It is never easy to face the departure of a coach because in the end it is a failure for the group, for everyone; because the results do not come out and it is not only the fault of the coach, but also of the players and they are decisions that are not easy to make. With Ibon now things have changed, I think the new ideas are coming in handy and we have this break to work on them more. We have only been able to train three or four days and there is a lot of room for improvement.
Q. How have you managed the entire dressing room?
R. We help each other, in the end we all had a very bad time. The one I spend the most time with is Alberto Díaz, one of my best friends, and we talked a lot but we knew we were working well and that Ibon’s arrival was going to help us. Yes, the Madrid game was a test, but we were very clear that in Fuenlabrada it was to win yes or yes. We tried to connect people intensely and it worked, people stay connected, don’t get discouraged and keep working hard. We all have to be as one.
P. The fans have been very disappointed
R. We know that Malaga is demanding with the basketball team and it is something that we like, it does not hold us back. But it’s part of our job: being exposed to what people say. I think we’re a good group, that we support each other when things don’t work out for someone, and we trust each other. Internally everything was going well, it is clear that this is going to happen, but we have all been there at some point in our careers.
Q. Criticism has rained down on the team from all sides…
R. We have read a lot of criticism… that we don’t care, that we don’t fight, but people are not aware that we are the most ‘fucked up’ when things don’t work out. It does make us sad that many say that we don’t fight or that we care because we really have been very screwed up and sad. But it does not influence and it does sadden us. We are the first to train hard when you lose and it is part of our job. People are focused on the good and the bad.
Q. Is Unicaja going to reach the Final Four of the BCL? It gets wet?
R. No, because I don’t think it’s good, but I can say that I have a lot of confidence in the group and the other day when we saw that it was going to be in Bilbao, we wanted much more. People are super excited and confident that we have possibilities
Q. At least it’s been a good year personally, right?
R. If you do not win games, it is useless. What I’ve tried to do is help the team as much as possible and push when Jaime hasn’t been, which is a very important loss for us and the games have turned out like that. I prefer to play a game like the one I played in Fuenlabrada, with worse numbers, and for the team to win by 20.
Q. Has the change of coach had anything to do with your growing role as an assistant?
R. It has nothing to do with the arrival of Ibon. Yes, it is true that trying to run more in the open field opens up the possibilities for me to raise the ball and look for my teammates in transition, and that opens up the opportunities for you to have more assists. I neither went looking for them nor did I know that I had finished with nine. Since yesterday I didn’t feel fine, physically neither to penetrate, so I looked for my companions. I was lucky to find them and that they solved. I want the team to win.
Q. The ankle has left you without FIBA ??windows…
R. He had been annoyed for two or three weeks. In the situation the team is in, the decision to continue playing was mine, and with Jaime’s injury even more so. We couldn’t afford to lose any more players. It’s been tough weeks.
P. Has it bothered you a lot to have to resign?
R. The situation of my injury is a bit peculiar; and with the rhythm of the matches it only made it worse and I really wanted to go with the National Team because I love it, but I have to think about myself and the club, and the best thing is to take advantage of these days to recover.
P. The Eurobasket is just around the corner…
R. An opportunity has been opened because there are many players who have withdrawn. But the level of basketball in Spain is very high. I’m going to continue doing my job with my club, which is what I have to do, and if I’m given the opportunity to go to the pre-selection, I’ll go with all the hope to make a place for myself. Now I am focused on Unicaja and the National Team will come
Q. Will you be a typesetter for a long time?
R. It’s still early because I still have one year left on my contract, and we’re halfway through the season. I can’t say anything because it would be unreal to say anything. I can only say that I am very happy in Malaga; from the first day I arrived, I am delighted and I feel grateful to many people at the club, and my intention is to continue here for that reason: I am happy, I see that the club is taking a path with the new president, with Juanma, which I like and he is ambitious. My intention is to stay here. It will be necessary to see if they have the same illusion in me that I have with them.