Baku, June 25, AZERTAC
"Winners never quit," says one of Jose Ignacio Martin Monzon's numerous tattoos. On the court, Spain's 32-year-old sharp-shooter certainly lives up to the slogan he wears on his left arm.
Even when they enjoyed a comfortable lead against Belgium in a match they won 20-13 on Wednesday, 'Nacho' kept on pushing his team-mates.
"I’m the leader, the captain. I’ve been playing streetball for 15 years. I love to win. I try to win every time, no matter against whom. I want my team-mates to be just like me," said Monzon, who scored 10 of Spain's 20 points.
In fact, the power forward loves basketball so much that while some of his fellow professional players go on holidays, he prefers heading to the courts.
"People ask me: ‘Why do you go and play streetball? They can hurt you, they can cut your eye or the nose, or whatever’. I don’t care, I just play. I play for fun, I play for money. Basketball is my life," says the man who took part in Quai 54, France's flagship streetball event, before coming to Baku.
As a member of the European elite of the 5x5 and 3x3 formats of the game, 'Nacho' is well positioned to underline the differences between the two disciplines.
"I think that the ACB (the Spanish first division) is more talented. We play with a lot of rules and plays. You’ve got to follow what the coach tells you. In here, it’s more physical, more intense. They play super tough. They may not be super talented but they play super hard," says the man from Valladolid.
Spain's captain also thinks that trash-talking, a big part of basketball's DNA, has an even bigger importance in the 3x3 version.
"In streetball, you’ve got to do whatever to get the win. If you’ve got to trash talk, you’ve got to do it," he says, having clearly respected the tradition when blocking several Belgian shots in Spain's second game.
As a 3x3 basketball lover, Monzon also watches as many Baku 2015 games as he can, especially those involving Serbia.
"I like them a lot as players and as people. I think Dusan is the best streetball player in Europe for sure. I think this is the best team right now."