Real Madrid dispense with Pablo Laso

Pablo Laso, directing a party. / Marko Djurica (Reuters)

The Chamartín club separates the coach from Vitoria, citing the cause of his heart problems

Oscar Bellot

Earthquake in the Real Madrid basketball team. The Chamartín club informed Pablo Laso on Monday that he will not continue to lead the team next season. The entity chaired by Florentino Pérez alleges as a cause the concern for the state of health of the coach from Vitoria, who suffered a heart problem at the beginning of June that led to his hospitalization and that prevented him from directing the team in the Endesa League final against Barça , in which the whites prevailed in four games to sing their thirty-sixth league match.

Although the Basque coach seemed strong enough to continue leading the bench, Juan Carlos Sánchez, head of the Real Madrid basketball section, has chosen to dispense with the coach who led the Whites' resurgence after a very long journey through the desert and catapulted them to one of the most glorious stages in their history with the conquest of 22 titles, among which two Euroleagues (2015 and 2018) and six Leagues stand out. His replacement will be Chus Mateo, Laso's main assistant to date and who was in charge of directing the team in the recent Endesa League final. Head coach of Unicaja in his day, the club considers him amply prepared to take up the baton and lead the renewal of a project that will never be the same after the departure of one of the most successful coaches of all time. A true club legend fired in a bad way.

The decision to remove Laso comes after a convulsive season like few others in which the Basque came to be more questioned than ever after a terrible losing streak between January and April. A crisis that the coach from Vitoria ended up weathering with tough decisions such as separating Frenchman Thomas Huertel and American Trey Thompkins after a night out before a Euroleague match against Panathinaikos in which Frenchman Guerson Yabusele was also involved. The French power forward was allowed to continue competing because he was a key piece and had just renewed for the next three seasons, but there was no clemency with the French point guard or the American power forward.

A legend badly dismissed

This movement acted as a cataract for a team that, from that moment on, picked up cruising speed, to the point of reaching the final of the Euroleague played in Belgrade, in which they lost to Efes by one point, and in the Endesa League, where he tore Barça to pieces, already with Chus Mateo directing operations from the wing, after Laso had to be hospitalized due to a blocked artery. Although the club initially reported that the coach had suffered a heart attack, the ailment was not as serious and Laso left the hospital shortly after driving his own car, maintained close contact with Chus Mateo and witnessed at the foot of the track at the WiZink Center how Real Madrid beat Barça in the fourth game of the Endesa League final

However, something had been broken between Laso and Juan Carlos Sánchez long before. Over the years there have been several disagreements between the two. Without going any further, the signing of Huertel was a bet by the manager and not by the coach, who agreed to the signing but was never in tune with the Frenchman. Laso's clinical situation has ended up precipitating events and Real Madrid has decided to dispense with his services as a coach to open a new stage.

Laso leaves with an impressive track record: two Euroleagues, six Leagues, six Cups, seven Super Cups and one Intercontinental. Twenty-two trophies that place him as the second most successful coach in the history of the Real Madrid basketball section, equaled by Lolo Sainz and surpassed only by Pedro Ferrándiz's 27.

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