Fernando San Emeterio is unquestionably one of Spain’s basketball greats and has collected a myriad of awards and titles along his illustrious career. The 6”6 small forward that can also play shooting guard has won two Eurobasket Gold medals in 2011 and 2015 while also winning a Silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Add to that two ACB championships in 2009/10 and 2016/17 to go along with the league’s MVP award in 2010/11 and Euroleague First Team in that same season and you have one complete player. But what makes San Emeterio tick?
Fernando San Emeterio Lara was born in 1984 in the city of Santander and grew up in Valladolid Spain. He always seemed to love basketball ever since he was able to walk and at the age of 3 his parents bought him his first basketball hoop. From there he went on to play basketball through all the youth stages, he played for the Valladolid youth team as a young teenager and in 2001 at the age of 17 he got called up to play on the big stage professionally with Valladolid. In total, San Emeterio played with Valladolid from 2001-2006 and continued to progress every year while eventually starting to make a name for himself. From 2006-2008 he played for Akasvayu Girona and became one of their main leaders on the court winning the FIBA EuroCup. While at Girona, San Emeterio continued to develop both as a basketball player and as a person.
One of the key moments that molded his career was his decision to sign with Baskonia. San Emeterio got off to a rough start at the Spanish team as Coach Dusko Ivanovic didn’t give him much playing in his first season and from there many thought he was going to be cold-shouldered going into the next campaign. However, after a tough season, he began to flourish and became one of the top forwards in Europe. San Emeterio’s tenure with Baskonia ended in 2015 when the team thought that the price to keep him was too high and his best basketball years were behind him. Baskonia let him go and he then signed with Valencia Basket where he plays today while still considered one of the premier players in Europe.
“He is an unbelievable player,” Carlos Martinez from Radio Sport commented. “He controls the flow of the game and is still one of the most important players on Valencia. This past week he scored 35 points to lead his team over Andorra in overtime 89-87.”
San Emeterio is a game changer when he steps onto the court. In an era where three point shots rule the game, Emeterio brings the game back to its roots by driving to the basket and using the post to his advantage. He also has a good three point shot but that’s not the main aspect of his game, he is a very well rounded player and is able to do almost anything and everything on the court. His versatility is a plus but it’s not the best aspect of his game. San Emeterio is clutch and steps up when his team needs him most. In the final seconds of a game you want the ball to be in his hands because he knows how to get the job done and pull out a victory.
Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Michael Roll is familiar with San Emeterio from his days in the ACB: “He’s very good player and I played against him before in Spain. He has played on the national team as well and has been doing his thing for a long time now. We need to be ready for him.”
“Ready for him” are the keys words as Yellow & Blue fans are all to well aware of San Emeterio’s knack to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat. Back in 2013 when San Emeterio was with Laboral Vitoria, Maccabi had a late 4th quarter edge ahead by one point 70-69 with 29.6 seconds to go following a Yogev Ohayon layup. The next possession was key for Laboral and San Emeterio came through with a clutch layup of his own in the last seconds of the game to pick up the win. In fact, the first time that San Emeterio played the Yellow & Blue was in 2009 when his pair of free throws and solid play in the final minutes helped his team to the win. Today, Maccabi Tel Aviv will again be in San Emeterio’s viewfinder, or should we say San Emeterio will be in Maccabi’s sights as he will always be that go to guy if the contest is close late in the game.
Maccabi Coach Neven Spahija will have to be very of the veteran especially in money time: “I respect him very much and we know exactly what he does on the court. We have some ideas of how to stop him.”
It’s always been tough to stop San Emeterio, no question about it. He’s had a great history against Maccabi and they’ll have to be ready for him. But he’s also content with his return to Israel, “It’s good to be back in Tel Aviv and I’m hoping to win here again. I’ve always tried to help my team with everything that I’ve got for many years. Maccabi is a big team in Europe. It’s a great place to play and I’m happy to be back.”
It will be interesting to see who will be happy at the end of 40 minutes. Will it be San Emeterio or Maccabi?
By Ben Oken & Josh Halickman