BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Americas Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Julio Lamas has been at the helm of Argentina for the last two summers and experienced mostly highs.
Since beginning his second stint as the head coach as the replacement for Sergio Hernandez, Lamas’ Argentina hosted and captured the gold medal at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata, and the team reached the Semi-Finals of the London Games before suffering defeats to the United States and, in the Bronze Medal Game, Russia.
The first thing a coach wants to do after his team loses a big game is get back on the court, but Lamas won't be able to do that with Argentina until next year in Caracas, Venezuela, when the national team attempts to defend its FIBA Americas title.
Caracas will also be a qualifying event for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Before then, many questions will have to be answered, including crucial ones about which veteran players will be available for the battles in Venezuela.
Four members of the London Olympic squad are now competing in the NBA.
Pablo Prigioni is a 35-year-old rookie with the New York Knicks while Luis Scola (Phoenix Suns) and Carlos Delfino (Houston Rockets) are with new teams.
Manu Ginobili, 35, is in his 11th season with the San Antonio Spurs, a team he joined immediately after helping Argentina finish runners-up at the 2002 FIBA World Championship.
Lamas spoke to Basquet Plus from the United States, where he met with Prigioni, Delfino and Scola.
"I came to see Pablo, Carlos and Luis, who changed cities and teams and I wanted to see how they have adapted, both personally and professionally, and to be in touch with them," he said.
"For me, it's one of the things you can do better when it's a full-time job (as national team coach), tracking the players personally.
"I just came to see how they were and to be in contact as the national team coach, to see all the players in the team."
Prigioni, the starting point guard of Argentina who had a long and successful career in Spain with clubs like Caja Laboral and Real Madrid, is averaging 14 minutes for the Knicks.
"I saw Pablo well, discovering a new world from a sporting standpoint, focusing on the content and the systems of the coach, knowing his opponents and the way to play with a lot of confidence to try and do well in this new challenge in this final stage of his career," Lamas said.
Delfino, who played on Argentina's gold-medal winning team at the Athens Games, has moved to the Rockets from the Milwaukee Bucks.
"I found Carlos adapting to Houston," Lamas said.
"He arrived a little bit late, has been there two months. It's a young team, a new one that is rebuilding.
"I saw him when he was returning to play (after an injury). He is well and enthusiastic about the new situation."
Houston used to be the home of Scola, but now he is playing for the Suns.
"As for Luis," Lamas said, "after five years in Houston, he's going through a change. It's a new project for him.
"I'll return in April, closer to the national team schedule to speak to them more about work."
Lamas did bring up the subject of Argentina basketball with each.
"We spoke about the national team and about many things that have to do with the national team," Lamas said.
"Right now, I wanted to listen to what function and role they have in their respective team in order to follow them throughout the year and to stimulate the link I have with the (NBA) teams.
"The fact that I can do these trips allows me to do my job better.
"Secondly, I'm able to experience the best basketball in the world and this allows me to be informed about what's happening, something which I require to do my job."
Lamas’ next big trip will be to the old continent, in February.
"I'm going to see (Caja Laboral's Andres) Nocioni in Spain in the Copa del Rey and I'll take advantage of that trip to see other players in Europe," Lamas said.