The Basketball Podcast: EP320 with Víctor Lapeña on Driving Success

RELEASE DATE : 15/05/2024

In this week’s coaching conversation, Canadian Women’s National Basketball Team Víctor Lapeña joins the Basketball Podcast to share his philosophy on international coaching, development, and principles of play.

Lapeña brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success to his current role as Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s National Basketball Team.

Prior to his appointment in 2021, Lapeña spent a remarkable 14 years within the Spanish Basketball Federation.  His impact is undeniable, having played a key role in Spain’s dominance on the international stage. During this tenure, he contributed to an impressive collection of 14 medals, including two coveted EuroBasket golds (2013, 2017) and a silver medal at the prestigious 2016 Rio Olympics.

Lapeña’s expertise extends beyond the national team level. He also boasts a distinguished club-level career in Spain, leading teams in both the second and first tiers of their national league. His strategic brilliance culminated in a championship title with CB Avenida in the 2012-13 season. Additionally, he achieved success on the international club scene by guiding Nadezhda Orenburg to the EuroCup Women title in 2019.

Further demonstrating his adaptability and coaching prowess, Lapeña took on a new challenge in 2018, leading the Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahçe. His leadership resulted in securing the Turkish Women’s Basketball Presidential Cup (2019), Turkish Women’s Basketball Cup (2020), and a historic 15th Women’s Basketball Super League title for the club in 2021.

Victor Lapena

Listen Here:

Víctor Lapeña Quotes:

“Once you build this relationship [with the player] then you can go on the court and then let them know, ‘Be brave. Enjoy the space the team is creating for you. You are the most important player at that moment with the ball in your hands.’”

“I like to have not so easy drills to encourage my players to overcome difficult situations . . the players motivated me . . they are there to play a beautiful style of play, to not be predictable.”

“The most important point in the Spanish program is how the Federation is able to give the kids the high competitive level with exhibition games, with great tournaments.”

“I like practice, like any coach. I like to introduce competition in drills during the practice but it’s never going to be the same as the real competition.”

“I encourage players to read more books and to have different things to do beside basketball because this is going to help them to be better players . . this is when they are kids and when they are professional players.”

“Sometimes it is not easy to establish your identity . . what I like to do is to adapt myself to what kind of players I have according to their strengths and weaknesses . .

“We respect some spacing rules and we try to put the best players in the best spots [for them] .  . but it’s not just spacing but also re-spacing.”

“The goal of any offense is to get an advantage. Once you get an advantage, and your rival is able to stop you, you need to get to re-spacing and play again. We talk with our players a lot about it. Next play. Next play. After, say, a floppy action, if we don’t take the shot, what is the next play?”

“The most difficult situation for me is to teach the players in what spot, in what situation they are the best. Because sometimes they tell it to me. I like to build my relationship with them as an individual relationship with brutal honesty.  To be very clear, ‘I love you here in this spot. And then, in time I will try to give you more.’”

“I think everybody has to know in what situation they are good, in what situation they have to develop their basketball skills, in what situation they have to accept that there are other players better than them. And then the next step is to manage the egos, to manage the people.”

“I love to practice different situations, like a box one or triangle and two or switching ball screen all the time, to provoke them to communicate with each other.  Then, you realize who of them is able to talk, who is not talking. You are getting information and you know what kind of defenses you can play. But a strong individual defense, man-to-man defense, is basic for me.”

“If we are just working on our help-side defense and our close-outs, then the message that sends to the players is not good. We have to be ready, but the pressure on the ball must be mandatory.”

“What I like to do is, in any practice, we have a couple of topics from the beginning. Everything is related to that. This is very important for me. Everybody knows that today we are working on this and this and this from the beginning, from the warm up.”

Víctor Lapeña Breakdown:

2:30 – Coaching Basketball in Canada

10:00 – Club Model vs Scholastic Model

16:00 – Basketball Development Model

22:00 – Coaching Principles and Strategies

26:00 – Player Development

32:00 – Coaching Strategies Learned in Soccer

37:00 – Defensive Strategies in Basketball

43:30 – Defensive Rebounding Strategies

Víctor Lapeña Selected Links from the Podcast:

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