Jose Luis Hernandez: We need a long time to work
Jose Luis Hernandez, the coаch of Bulgaria's women U-20 National team, was kind enough to talk to us for a few minutes after his team played 3 friendly games versus Romania (U 20) in Ruse. The Spaniard coaches the team for the second straight year and his task once again is to preserve its place in Division A of EuroBasket 2010.
"Are you satisfied with this first training camp and how much progress did you think the team made?"
"I think those first 10 days have been very important for us. Most of the players didn’t know me before this camp, so we work every hard and try to introduce new concepts for them. And I think they are doing a very good job, so I’m very satisfied. The results of those friendly games are not so important – more important is that the girls are improving all the time and with every game they are learning things and trying to “grow” a little more every minute."
"So you are not worried about those two losses in the first two games? Did you think what the team showed in the third game was its true face?"
"No, not worried at all. We are working with new concepts for our defense and I know it’s difficult. So, OK, the first day we lose by 5, the second day we lose by 3, then we watch video of the games together, trying to see the mistakes; today we were a little bit tired, so we didn’t work so hard in defense and played more zone… But it was OK… It’s like practice – those are more practice games than real friendly games. At the European Championships it will be completely different, for sure."
"Have you decided how many of these players will remain in the team for the next training camp? And will there be places in the squad for some of the others from the full list, some that we didn’t see here in Ruse?"
"We’ll continue practicing here with this group of 15 players, until we go to France. We will leave for the tournament in France with 13 players, but the other 2 won’t be dropped from the team yet – Maria Boycheva is injured and Antonia Zagorova has exams, so that’s why they will stay in Bulgaria. After we come back, during the next training camp we will decide the final 12 that will go to the European Championships. The remaining players from the initial list could only be called up again in case of injuries."
"The goal that the BFB set for EuroBasket 2010 in Latvia was just “Stay in division A”. But do you personally have higher goals with this team?"
"Well, indeed, the first goal is to win one game in the group stage and thus stay in the division. After we win one, then maybe we have a chance to win another game – like we did last year, when we reached the game for 9/10 place. We will try to do at least the same thing – that will be our goal. But we should not forget our level, so staying in Division A is the most important thing. But it’s also important that the players gain confidence and feel they can compete against better players; they have to work and improve to be better and better every day and every year."
"So maybe another goal is to promote some of these girls to the women’s national team next year?"
"Yes, that is one of the main ideas. That is why we work with some even younger players – we have 3 girls under 18 here, because we want them to have more experience next year; and we want some of the other players here to be in the women’s team next year – that is the idea. But we need time to do it; it’s not something that can happen next week."