“After 13 years, Moncho is the guy who kicked the rubbish bins. I leave FC Porto so I felt more in Portugal”

Tribune interviews

The 53-year-old Spanish basketball coach Moncho López leaves FC Porto with undisguised grief and the feeling of having become persona non grata in our country, but rejects being known as the coach who kicked a trash can and slammed his hand into a table after losing a championship. In a straightforward and revealing interview, the second part of which you can read on Sunday, Moncho talks about his brand in the sport, not only at FC Porto, where he won 15 titles. And he reveals that he didn’t say goodbye to Pinto da Costa

Alexandra Simões de Abreu

Moncho arrived in Portugal in 2009 to be national coach, but shortly after took over FC Porto. When did FC Porto’s invitation appear?
I was in the Portuguese national team, at a basketball party in the Algarve and Mário Saldanha told me: “I received a call from the director of FC Porto, Fernando Assunção, who said he wanted to talk to you. He asked if you could be the coach and coach of a club. I said yes. As president of the federation I think you have to meet with FC Porto. Listen to the invitation they want to make you.” A few minutes before he had this conversation with me, a veteran Porto coach, Mário Barros, said to me: “FC Porto wants to invite you, but they will talk to the federation first”. FC Porto has already achieved something, a good receptivity on my side because I liked the procedure.I met with Fernando Gomes, current president of the FPF, and with Fernando Assunção, in Ponte de Lima.

How did they convince you?
With the project. First, Fernando Gomes is a great seducer in his speech and Fernando Assunção conveyed a lot of passion to me. Then they used the athlete’s resource. They said that the FC Porto athletes who were with me in the selection said that Moncho works like this and like that. They showed a good knowledge of my way of working. As a coach, I watched the championship and FC Porto seemed to me to be one of the teams with the best conditions. Organized, with a van and its own pavilion. I thought: I want to be in Portugal, I like to be here, I want to stay in the national team, but I really like training, I’m going to coach FC Porto.

What did they ask you when you arrived at FC Porto?
To change the mode. They wanted the team to win and discuss the titles. And they asked me to train players. I think it was achieved. Probably the highest level of satisfaction is with the training, because in recent years, and it’s not just my responsibility, it’s the training coaches and coordinator Isabel Lemos with my small contribution, FC Porto’s training has given great results. It has given players to the national teams, we have brought players to the senior team and above all, the top tier of Portuguese basketball is full of players who debuted with us. Not everyone has been at FC Porto since they were little, some arrived at 14, 15 years old, others at 16, but they didn’t arrive trained, they completed their training at FC Porto.

What is your brand in training?
Training method. The coaches who worked with me and now train at Ovarense and V. Guimarães, or who were my athletes, their construction of the game in training, the pedagogical progression, the distribution of content during the week, I think they have the Moncho brand. Because in the game, the strategies, the plays, how you make a throw-in on the sideline and on the endline, this is more universal, it belongs to everyone, we copy each other. The training method characterizes us a lot. We trained many coaches at FC Porto who left because they can earn more money at other clubs.

The dual role of national coach and coach of FC Porto was short-lived.
A year and the problems appeared. Benfica said: “This gentleman cannot continue in the national team. Either FC Porto or the national team”. Mário Saldanha called me and this was the dialogue: “I want you in the national team, Moncho. What is your contract at FC Porto?”; “My contract at FC Porto is such”, “I don’t know if we can assume”; “Mário, it’s not a question of money, I don’t want to leave Futebol Clube do Porto”; “Don’t do that, otherwise you’ll have to leave the national team”, “It’s not fair Mario, I have a contract signed by you that says I can do both”; “But I have a lot of pressure and I had a meeting in Luz with a Benfica manager who told me that being coach of FC Porto and the national team, influences, you will take athletes from Benfica to FC Porto”. , João Santos who came to FC Porto, but I had already left the national team when he came.

What weighed in the decision to stay at FC Porto and not the national team? Wasn’t it really a question of money?
Not. There was little difference in my pay, I’m never comfortable talking about wages, but I can tell you it was a difference of one, two or three percent. I had been at FC Porto for a year, I had won the League Cup and the Portuguese Cup.