They began to develop their legend in the EBA League and have never been able to reach a LEB Gold League that means speaking in bigger words, but in between, Zornotza ST has managed to find its place as one of the rockiest teams in the LEB Silver League. Because year after year, Mikel Garitaonandia’s team is capable of standing up to the great ocean liners of the competition through the potion of illusion and work.

PABLO ROMERO / COMMUNICATION AREA FEB

With just 19,000 inhabitants, it seems difficult to understand that a basketball team from a modest locality could be eligible for promotion to the LEB Gold League season after season.

Some doubts that begin to find answers when they cross the doors of the Larrea Sports Center, an installation that acts as the Garitaonandia lair, a technician who has dedicated the last 12 years of his life to a project that perhaps would not have had the same route without him at the controls.

That is why today, on his 37th birthday, it is inevitable to feel the emotions of a coach who has lived by and for his Zornotza ST. A team that begins to be a regular in those struggles for a promotion that does not imply any obligation for them, but which has in turn made them one of the most complicated clients in the category for those who should opt for it.

This is demonstrated by their recent leadership in a Western Conference in which they could very soon certify the greatest success in their history if they manage to bring the final of a LEB Silver Cup to their location, which would be the best possible prize for the entity.

Illusion, desire and work, will not be lacking …

Garitaonandia: “The key to this club is its work with passion and enthusiasm”

Today he reaches 37 years of age, but Mikel Garitaonandia’s mind is inevitably set on the duel in which his team will defend their leadership status this Saturday. A small success that, however, has not diverted the least attention from a wardrobe willing to improve itself day by day.


Mikel, how does it feel to see the team as a leader and, most importantly, after having competed at a high level against the main favorites?

“It gives me great joy for the players, because they are doing a fantastic job on a day-to-day basis and because they are being tremendously generous and supportive. They always work with the team in the lead, putting aside their egos and their desire to shine from the individual level and that is why they deserve each of the results they are obtaining. In addition, I am very happy for the four people who work piecework at the club and that we feel this as ours, as well as for a hobby that last year they could not enjoy from the stands, which was a great season for the team. In short, it is a pride and a responsibility to continue meeting expectations and to continue showing this high level of play ”.


Seeing this start of the League, what do you think the group’s route in the competition could be?

“We have been saying for weeks that we may not be the team with the highest quality, nor the longest, nor the deepest … Obviously there are many teams that surpass us in this regard, but one of the greatest virtues that we have is that each of Players empower their teammates. The team is structured very well and the virtues of each one affect the collective game of the team. We have a fluid game in which the players feel happy and important believing with great faith in everything they do to be able to beat anyone. I think we are going to be a very difficult team to win and that we now have a good opportunity to extend this moment. We need to incorporate one or two players to be able to work along this path on a day-to-day basis and for that to allow us to maintain the illusion of being able to be on top and of being able to enjoy our game. Because, from now on, we will have to know how to manage that everyone will come to measure us with the knife between their teeth ”.

It is impossible not to think that the team is in a privileged situation with a view to qualifying for the Cup. Although perhaps as a coach you will talk to us about the classic “game by game” …

“No, if at this point in the season and seeing our position I told you that we do not think about the Cup, I would be lying to you … Everyone has the word Cup stuck in their heads to a greater or lesser extent, but without becoming obsessed with it. At the beginning of the season we did not set it as our goal, but after having beaten Alega Cantabria and Hereda Ourense with such a good game, we are extremely excited. If we get it, it would be played in Larrea and that makes us a special illusion because it would be a prize for everyone, but we know that it could demand that we no longer lose any game in the remainder of the first round. And that is where we have to go on to think about the day to day and the next game that we get a little fair. But as I say, the Cup already sounds in the town and in the club and in some way we have it as our objective ”.

There is an unavoidable question… Where is the key for this team to reinvent itself year after year and put the main budgets of the League in check?

“There is no other secret than work. Every summer we begin to work with great care to be able to close a budget that gives us a few minimums of stability and that allows us to make a staff as competitive as possible. One of the greatest successes of the club is that we have a base of Biscayan players who have raised the level a lot and who help people who come from abroad to feel warm and happy. When you get that profile of an outside player right and he comes with a good predisposition to work, the team grows and grows. And from there, more training work, preparing for rivals, etc … Because, with a lower budget than that of teams designed to move up, you can’t do anything other than work with passion ”.

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