July 14, 2013

Interview: India's New Women's Basketball Coach Francisco Garcia talks about the road ahead

After working with former Duke Assistant Coach Pete Gaudet for the last year and a half, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) decided to change directions and pursue a different angle of a leader for India's Senior Women's squad. That's how they found experienced Spanish coach Francisco Garcia. Garcia, who has coached at various different levels in Europe over the past 20 years, was officially announced as the Head Coach of India's Women's Basketball Team last week, and arrived in India for the first time just a few days before that.

Prior to joining BFI, he had been involved in various women’s professional programs in Spain, Denmark, and Finland. Since returning to Spain in 2005, Coach Garcia coached various Spanish Federation Youth National Development Camps, in addition to acting as a private development coach for a number of Spain’s senior national women’s players, including Amaya Valdermoro, three-time WNBA Champion.

Garcia will have his work cut out for him. He only has a few months of preparation before India's Women get a chance to play for the Asia's biggest basketball event - the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship for Women - from October 27 - November 3 in Bangkok (Thailand).

To kick off this new chapter in Indian Basketball, I caught Garcia for a brief interview on his past experiences with basketball and his expectations for the future while working with legends such as Geethu Anna Jose to lead the Indian team forward.

Hoopistani: After spending your career as a basketball coach in Europe, what made you decide to choose India? How were you picked for this job?

Garcia: I thought about coming here as a personal challenge. As a coach I felt I needed a change in my career. I also believe that [in India] is a good project that can be built with time.

Hoopistani: Have you had any experience of India before?

Garcia: Not really. The only experience of India I had before was Indian food! Nothing else...

Hoopistani: How long is your contract for in India?

Garcia: I have a one year contract, plus one more if both parties (Garcia and the BFI) agree.

Hoopistani: Please tell me about your past coaching experience, the teams that you worked with, and your accomplishments.

Garcia: I have been involved with coaching since I was 19 years old, and I have coached both Men and Women at all levels and ages. I have coached at the professional level in Denmark, Finland, and Spain, too. I won a gold medal in Finland in a Men's team working with Montenegrin Coach Mihailo Pavicevic, and a silver medal in an under-20 women's championship. I have won 18 Regional championships, coached in several youth Spanish National team camps and elite camps for professionals. I have also run clinics in Spain, Lebanon, and Sweden.

Hoopistani: Have you had a chance to interact with any members of the team yet?

Garcia: Yes I have, and they seem to be very positive [about the changes ahead].

Hoopistani: You will be taking over from Pete Gaudet now and taking the team ahead to the FIBA Asia Championship. What is your expectation for this squad against Asia's best teams?

Garcia: Obviously, we have not too much time left to prepare for this championship properly, but I'll make sure that we work hard on the court to compete at our maximum level.

Hoopistani: Please tell me a little about your coaching philosophy and style?

Garcia: I like transition basketball on offense, and tough defense on the other end. Offensively, I also like to add short set plays for the team.

Hoopistani: Aside from coaching the women's national team, would you be involved in other aspect of basketball in India?

Garcia: Yes, I'm going to be in charge of the younger national teams to install a model and philosophy.

Hoopistani: Have you had a chance to watch Geethu Anna Jose or any of the other stars in the team play? How do you think you will use them in your system?

Garcia: Clearly, Geethu is going to be our inside reference because she can create plays inside and will be one of the most important parts of the team. But obviously we need to play as a team with a good balance inside and outside.

Hoopistani: What is your vision, looking ahead, for how good this team can be in your tenure in India?

Garcia: The main point has to be to be growth and incorporate young players into the group little by little. So we must focus on the youth talent properly. Clearly, the basis is the grow the game in the grassroots.

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