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The not-so-sunny side of Spanish hoops

For the last two months, pretty much every day in that span at some stage, I've really missed ‎the place.

Those 30-odd days of summer spent following Team USA around, despite the occasionally discouraging lack of suspense on the floor in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, were a dream for a Europhile.

So all I can do, whenever I start getting deeply wistful, is cradle the Molten FIBA mini-ball on my desk to try to transport myself back to the streets of Bilbao or Barcelona or Madrid for a sec.

Or I can check in with the fellow American from the NBA who made a full-time move to España and finds himself stuck in a full-fledged Spanish nightmare.

‎In August, former NBA player Scott Roth agreed to take a detour from the volatile world of assistant coaching in the NBA to serve as the head coach of Baloncesto Sevilla in the Spanish ACB. It sounded like a truly special opportunity, since only a select few Yanks had previously coached in Spain's top league, most notably ESPN's own George Karl. So Roth, who had multiple playing stints in Spain in the early 1990s after his brief NBA career with Utah, San Antonio and Minnesota, decided he couldn't refuse the opportunity to take charge of his own team at such a high level.

Especially because serving as Sevilla's coach would also mean overseeing the ‎development of Latvian 7-footer Kristaps Porzingis, who is widely projected to be a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft with a skill set scouts say takes the best from both Ersan Ilyasova and Andrea Bargnani. On my ESPN.com colleague Chad Ford's latest Big Board, Porzingis is the No. 4-rated prospect.

Roth, for his part, has a history of productive interaction with big men in his various stops on the NBA map as well as the international game, having worked extensively with -- just to name a few -- Pau Gasol, Jonas Valanciunas, Al Horford and Mehmet Okur. So he took the leap after finishing last season on John Loyer's bench in Detroit, figuring that his various playing experiences with Tau Ceramica and CEB Lliria would speed his transition to this all-new coaching environment.

He certainly never imagined that his new employers, thanks to the ACB's petty rules, aren't even allowed to list him as a head coach in league play.

According to ACB regulations, specifically those ordained by the Spanish coaches association, head coaches must possess a league-sanctioned license as well as FIBA clearance to ‎coach league games. Roth didn't have the license when Sevilla hired him but was assured by his new club that, after a decade as an NBA assistant as well as head-coaching experience in both the D-League and internationally with the Dominican Republic, Sevilla would either have the grounds to obtain the license for him or be able to pay some sort of fine to ‎clear him.

But the ACB and its coaches association, which is known to have made exceptions in the past when in the mood, is refusing to bend despite Roth's obvious qualifications. ‎As a result, Roth can only coach the team in its mid-week Eurocup games. In ACB play, he can only act as team "manager" and has to defer to stand-in coach Audie Norris, since Roth is forbidden from standing during games to shout instructions to his players, talking to the referees or doing most of the things that professional basketball coaches are allowed to do.

It's a farce that prompted Marca, Spain's biggest daily national sports newspaper, to refer to Roth as Sevilla's Entrenador Fantasma.

The Phantom Coach.

Suffice it to say none of this was in the brochure when the job was offered.

‎Despite Roth's attempts to round up letters of support in recent weeks from the likes of the NBA, USA Basketball and both the Dominican Republic and Turkish national federations with whom he has worked, Sevilla has yet to convince the ACB that its new coach is already more than worthy of the license. Worse yet, Roth can't do anything to obtain a license in-season, since one of the three required courses is not until June.

‎The situation ‎is even more ridiculous when you hear that the Spanish national team -- which happens to be in the market for a new head coach after its failure to even reach the medal round on home soil in the inaugural FIBA World Cup that made me fall so hard for the country -- doesn't require any such license.

Which is to say that Roth is eligible to coach Spain ... but not in Spain.

We repeat: Ridiculous.

‎The only aspect of Roth's European adventure going to plan is the ability to work on a daily basis with Porzingis, whose fast-rising stock is such that a number of NBA teams have already dispatched scouts or executives to Seville this season to study him first-hand. But the disparity in the club's play, when comparing the European games Roth is allowed to coach and the league games in which he's neutered, is stark.

In the Eurocup, Sevilla is off to a solid 2-2 start in Group C despite playing three of its first four of 10 group games on the road. ‎In ACB play, Sevilla is 0-5, thanks in part to two crunch-time unravelings at home while Roth was largely muzzled in manager mode.

‎"With such a young, inexperienced team, it's been a difficult situation," Roth said this weekend by phone. "In a lot of ways, I'm in a no-win situation from the coaching side [in league games]. But having such good, young and willing players that are developing and fighting every night, it's made it worthwhile to go through this experience."

On this particular Sunday night, then, I won't just be clutching my Molten replica ball for nostalgic comfort after getting home from Heat at Mavs to lock myself into the Power Rankings dungeon. I'll also be thinking about the guy who was essentially tethered to a plastic chair on the bench for Sevilla's home date with CAI Zaragoza instead of stalking the sidelines to try to help those ‎willing youngsters scratch out that first league win.

What's that saying about one man's paradise?