Carlos Alocen of Real Madrid is one of the most interesting young players in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. The athletic playmaker boasts great court sense and a high basketball IQ. By signing a long-term contract with Real, Alocen did much more than joining one of the best clubs in the world.
His father, Alberto Alocen, was born in Madrid and played for Real's youth teams. He had a long professional career, in which he played for Oviedo, Helios, Peñas Huesca and Askatuak, but never got to play for Real's first team. Carlos is now living his father's dream.
"It is very special. It is like a dream-come-true to sign for Real when I was so young. Obviously, Real Madrid, for me, is one of the best teams in Europe and in the world, and its interest for me being part of this team the next 4-5 years is something very special for me," Alocen said. "I want to practice a lot to try to get better in the things that I have to and try to do my best and play a lot of years here in Madrid."
"I am very thankful to my father because he passed me that love for basketball that I have to this day."
Though Carlos played a lot of sports as a kid, basketball was his natural choice. His father never pushed him to choose basketball over other options. In fact, he practiced all sports with him.
"I played tennis with my father. I played soccer, too, I played basketball, but when I was 10 years old, more or less, I was playing all the games together and that was impossible because I had practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... and it was impossible for my parents, and for me, too!" Alocen admitted. "I chose basketball because it was the sport that I loved, that I played best, too. I saw that my father was a basketball player, too, but he never pushed me to play basketball, soccer or whatever. He didn't push me, ever."
Once Carlos chose basketball, his father Alberto tried to share his experience with him. Being in love with the sport definitely helped create a special bond.
"I have always said the same about my father. He has always been a big part of my basketball, of my life. Obviously, he has been a reference for me," Carlos said. "He played basketball for a lot of years and loves basketball. I saw his love of basketball in his mind all the time and that was why I chose basketball and why I am playing it. I am very thankful to my father because he passed me that love for basketball that I have to this day."
Alberto played from 1977 to 1991 and Carlos was born in 2000, well after his father had retired. Basketball was important, but getting good grades at school came first and this is something Carlos will always be grateful for, that his parents made sure he put his education before sports.
"I think it is helping me a lot. I keep studying now. I did it in Zaragoza, I finished my studies there, but now I keep studying in the university," Alocen said. "It is more difficult because we practice a lot, we travel a lot and it is different, but in my mind, like my father tried to teach me, it was like, you have to keep studying, you never know what's going to happen in the future and you have to have your studies, your education, and I try to do it every day."
Carlos was born in Zaragoza and his father played for Real Madrid. There is another Alocen, Lorenzo, who is also from Zaragoza and who made history with Los Blancos. His name will be forever linked to a game in Varese back in 1962 in which Real's Coach Pedro Ferrandiz instructed him to score in his own basket to lose a game on purpose, avoiding overtime in which his team might have lost by more points. That trick forced a change of rules. Alocen helped Real win Spanish League titles in 1962 and 1963. Despite so many coincidences, Lorenzo Alocen is not related to Carlos and Alberto Alocen, making Carlos the first member of the family to join Los Blancos' first squad.
"I know he is very proud of me," Carlos said of his father. "It's true that he played in the youth program in Madrid, but he didn't play in the first team. Now, I have reached a dream that we both had. He didn't get it, but he is so proud of me. We share the love of basketball and we talk about this a lot, about basketball and about the things that happened in my life. My father was born in Madrid, loves the city, its soccer team and of course, its basketball team. He's watched all the games throughout the years, and I did too. I watched all the soccer and basketball teams' games and like them, too. Like I said, we shared that love for Madrid. We have family here in Madrid and it is so good to play here, to play a lot of years. Everything is right."
The senior Alocen played in the Spanish first division for many years and faced Carlos's current coach, Pablo Laso, many times. He also played against his current teammate Alberto Abalde's father, also named Alberto, mainly when he was with OAR Ferrol and Alocen was with Huesca. Of course, that leads to some interesting conversations in Real's locker room.
"I have reached a dream that we both had. He didn't get it, but he is so proud of me."
"Yes, we have talked sometimes about this. It's a funny fact. I remember one press conference that Pablo [Laso] talked about this. It is funny," Alocen said. "I have talked with my father about this and it's true that he played against Abalde's father, against Pablo Laso, and I have watched some games of Pablo against my father, and it is special, too."
Abalde's father taught him some moves and tricks, but has respected the coaches he had over the years.
"When I was young, we practiced a lot. When I was 8, 9, 10 years old, we practiced together. He tried to teach me some moves or some things that I had to learn. Those moments, I think, helped me a lot to be where I am right now. Being 19 and bigger, it is more difficult to keep practicing together, but sometimes we talk about this," Carlos said. "We talk a lot about basketball. It's true that he's let my coaches, obviously, do their work, and he tries to support me in the difficult moments. But he wants to give me my space, to think by myself when I have lost, when I had a bad game, but obviously, he supports me every day.
"Now, I see my parents less because they are living now in Zaragoza, but they support me from there. It is different, but it is a new opportunity."