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Coach: The World Championships should be in July

8/31/2010

One of Europe's most respected coaches, Real Madrid's Ettore Messina, blogs on Sports.ru that he thinks the World Championships -- and other similar contests -- should be held in July, not September.

He explains:

For instance, players will know that after the tournament they’ll have a large chunk of summer to rest and recover. And national teams’ coaches will focus more on schemes and team play as opposed to spending vast amounts of time on physical preparation. Four weeks will probably be enough for teams to revise plays and get everybody on board from the tactical standpoint, so it’s absolutely possible to hold the tournament in the beginning or in the middle of July. And the remaining part of summer will be resting time for players. NBA guys might even have up to 2 months to recover after long season.

Also, this way club coaches will have the opportunity to run normal preseasons for their sides. I’ll give you an example – this year the Worlds conclude on September, 12th. I’ll be forced to call up my international players (and we have six of them at Real Madrid) to club duties almost immediately after that, because we play in Spanish Supercup on September 24th and then on October 3rd we face Estudiantes in the ACB League season opener. So, there’s no other choice for us but to rush the preparation of guys who will be returning from Turkey as we’ll only have two weeks to get them in sync with the rest of the club.

Moreover, if history is any indication, players who participate in international competitions in September are much more likely to suffer injuries over the course of the following season.

That’s why I think it’ll be much safer to go back to the old schedule and allow clubs which invest a lot of money into players to arrange full-scale preparations with necessary amount of teaching and sufficient number of scrimmages before the start of the official season.

Whatever the optimum schedule may be, it certainly seems like seeing our best players unified on their national teams is a worthy goal. It's good basketball, and fun to watch for a million reasons. (This functions a little like a series of All-Star teams -- favorite stars together! -- only the basketball is way better.) At the moment players do so while putting their professional teams in some degree of peril. To the extent players can be spared that tough choice, and instead given the opportunity to do both wholeheartedly, it would seem to benefit basketball fans. If that means holding these tournaments earlier in the summer, who'd be against it?

I'd also point out that if a national team commitment leaves a player simply playing too many games in a year to stay healthy, perhaps that's argument No. 697 for shortening the NBA season a little.

(Thanks, Alex.)