"When we won Euroleague 1 last month (the second continental adapted basketball competition) it's as if we had opened the bottle. I'm looking forward to the Final Four of the Honor Division this weekend and, if luck helps us, to achieve the title, "says Manu Lorenzo, 19, the Galician promise of the Bidaideak Bilbao club. "We have a good team to get where we want," the player continues. "The fight will be equal, but in the regular phase we have already defeated all our rivals."
The adversaries to which Manu refers are, first of all, the Amiab Albacete, champion of the League last year, with whom the Bidaideak will cross today in the semifinals at the San Fernando de Cuenca sports center. If imposed, the Bilbao would play the final tomorrow Saturday on the same stage against the winner of the clash that will face the Mideba Extremadura, first in the regular phase (the second was the Bidaideak with the same points), and the Ilunion de Madrid, this last state and European archicampeón of the ONCE Foundation that in February achieved the title of the Cup, imposing itself precisely on the Biscayans in the final. "You do not know what can happen to a single match. That's the beauty of basketball, "says Lorenzo.
How this young man came to the Bidaideak is a simple story of love of sports and learning. Because when he was a kid Manu played goalkeeper football in the coastal town of Mugardos (next to Ferrol), despite his muscular problems, a birth condition that was accentuated as he increased his height (measures 1.92) and that it made it difficult for him to walk until he was forced to move in a wheelchair. If then they would have assured him that, when he was 19, he would be summoned by the Paralympic basketball team and he would run as a serious candidate to go to the European Championship in Poland (from August 30 to September 8) … "What would have happened? saying? Well, they were crazy », answers Manu. His Bidaideak colleagues tell him he will get it. «They motivate me», thanks Manu.
Ambition has never lacked this player since he was a kid. "I think there are people who are worse than me," he says, waiting for the match against Amiab Albacete. The way his muscles are developing in the growth stage has given him a maturity that other elite athletes lack with twice as many years as him. "Exercise the mind," advises Manu to young people, disabled or not. «Never get bored with what you are doing, look for something different that makes you change. If not, you will get bored and you will not get so excited. Do not forget that there is always someone who can teach you a little more, if only a detail, because that detail will help you to ascend ».
Lorenzo is at the beginning of a race that, as is the norm for disabled athletes, aims beyond the state League, the European tournaments of clubs or national teams and a World Cup. It aims at the Paralympic Games, and those at Tokyo 2020 seem to be the brightest in history. "You have to set a goal and when you get there, go for another one. Tokyo is a dream. But you also have to mark achievements like those of Asier García (his Bidaideak partner, international). He has been the biggest rebounder of the regular phase of this league, leader in assists and in efficiency ".
The thing about Manu with the basket is an idyll that started when he was 10 years old. «I was on a birthday and the president of the Ferrol club (Basketmi) asked me if I wanted to play». That child participated in school tournaments for a short time. At the age of 11, he started competing in the second state division with adults, and when he was 14, he went to Amfiv de Vigo, in División de Honor, where he played for four seasons. He had offers to leave before, but he preferred to wait for the studies until he moved to the Biscayan capital in 2017. "My parents told me to choose the team where I would be most comfortable, not the one that gave me the most. Bilbao is a welcoming city, the people are wonderful and superlative. I'm fine (he stays in a hotel with other Bidaideak players). Basketball has given me a second family. I do my daily life with teammates and class friends ».
Because Manu studies in the mornings. He wants to take an intermediate degree in Mechanics and then move on to a higher level of Automotive. "It's what I like," he says. He is international sub'22 and has all the tickets to become one of the best adapted basketball players in Europe. Or that's what they say in the Bidaideak, the Basque organization of people with disabilities that took over the club six years ago and has empowered the elite with the support of the Provincial Council, through the Bizkaialde Foundation, supported by others sponsors; and also with the help of the City Council (Bilbao Kirolak) and the Basque Government. "We are very motivated to the Final Four," says Manu. «Our possibilities are at 50%. It is true that luck can tilt the result, but in our favor it plays that we have done a great season. We have exceeded the expectations that I had. It was an aspiration, but I did not imagine that we were going to get it ».
Did he really not imagine it? Because the Galician player tells how the first teachings he received from his family before even coming out on a court were clear. "My parents put me in my head since I was little, nothing is impossible. There is another way to do it, but it is not impossible. If I had been told as a child that I would be like this … ».
(tagsToTranslate) impossible (t) only (t) way (t) to do it