There are two things that define Juan Roig above all. One is his love for Valencia, a city that saw him born in 1949, and the other is basketball, a sport that captivated him early in the morning while he saw Spain win the Olympic silver in Los Angeles 84. The businessman, the country’s second greatest fortune, he found no better way to unite both passions than assuming control of the Valencia Basket, a club he turned to when he was dying away from the ACB in the late eighties. He rescued him then and pampered him until he took him back to the elite of the national basket – Cup champion in 1998 -, although it has been in recent years when he has promoted the club in a definitive way with the construction of a sports macrocenter for the quarry and with the project of a new pavilion that will also serve as a cultural center for the city.
Real Madrid, which the oranges defeated two years ago in the ACB final, is today the rival for a place in the Cup final (18.30 hours, #Vamos). The duel, a classic of Spanish basketball in recent times, measures the evolution of the Valencian club, which does not want that league won in 2017 to be a punctual success as it was that 1998 Cup.
To avoid the ups and downs, Roig promoted years ago the construction of “l’Alquería”, a 15,000 square meter sports center with 13 basketball courts. The largest in Europe dedicated to the basket. A unique space where more than 600 children live in the quarry and, since its inauguration in 2017, is the sports and philosophical engine of the club. “The most important impact of recent years – beyond the titles – has been the arrival of l’Alquería, which has meant a transcendental impact on the club. Not so much in the life of the first team, but in the club’s basketball environment. Everything is bigger now. You go to the pavilion next to l’Alquería and everything smells like basketball. That has generated a great atmosphere and all that is giving many positive stimuli for the future of the club », recognizes the coach, Jaume Ponsarnau, hours before measuring Real Madrid in the semifinals.
The duel is no longer seen with the anxiety of yesteryear, because the viability does not depend on a result. The institution has maintained for years a solid project designed and directed by Francisco Raga, CEO of the club and childhood friend of Roig. His was the idea of building l’Alquería and in his brain the idea of the next great project in Valencia also grew. An NBA-style pavilion that will begin to be built next summer and that will serve, as well as the clubhouse, as the setting for large music concerts.
The new «Arena» will cost 220 million, financed by Roig, which is also the main economic support of the club, which will inject around fifteen million this year, of which 1.4 will go to defray the women’s team, the other big bet of the businessman and his wife, Hortensia Herrero. «Recent growth has shown that Valencia Basket is much more than we do in each game. It is also women’s basketball – the only club with teams in the first division in both boys and girls – and training. The club is taking this development very seriously and we are all thinking about the new pavilion. All this halo that is being generated around the institution makes every day very exciting for everyone and that we do not set limits, ”says Ponsarnau, who arrived on the bench in 2016 as an assistant and who took the reins of the first team in 2018.
His is part of the merit of the team’s resurrection, which at the beginning of the season went through a crisis that was about to cost him the job. «We had a plan and the only thing we did in those moments of doubt was to persevere. Believe in ourselves and arm ourselves around that idea, ”explains the coach, who still remembers the defeat against the whites in the final of 2017.
Sergio Llull was one of the executioners of Valencia then and the Balearic is once again a concern for Ponsarnau. “You have woken up the beast,” he joked with the media, while acknowledging that it will be very difficult to have Vives today, touched after the game against Barça.
In Real Madrid, the doubt is Rudy Fernández, whose problems in the abductors take weeks without letting him play normally. The Mallorcan will be available to Laso, who will only force him if he sees it strictly necessary. .