Exclusive interview with Braian Angola, one of the biggest players in the Greek championship with AEK Athens. We talked about his healthy, after the covid-19 situation, the beginning of his career and his EuroLeague dreams.
First question, the most important. How are you? What is your state of health after complications due to Covid?
I feel fine. They told me you have myocarditis and your heart is inflamed. I don’t feel anything, but I have to do some tests and see how things are going with the heart. I’ll have news in a few weeks.”
From a sporting point of view, what was to interrupt a season like this, while you were playing at very high levels?
“It was really heartbreaking because my career has already experienced many stops. For example, after winning a championship in Belgium, I moved to Partizan where, after a good start, something went wrong. I played a very good season in Israel, in the level I want to play and then I went to AEK, where I played very well with my teammates. I think I was having a great season and this happened. It’s frustrating, but this is life and you have to keep pushing.“
How are you in Athens and with AEK?
“Really good. I practice every day, even if I cannot play. We have a good relationship, we are a very united team, which has gone through some difficult times, in particular with what happened with Stevan Jelovac. We want to continue to stay together, keep pushing and going to the playoffs.”
I can’t imagine the pain, as a teammate, with the tragedy of Stevan Jelovac.
“It was heartbreaking, so sad. We were next each other in the locker room, we talked every day and he was a great person. It was a tragedy that you never expect.”
I’d like to talk about your career. A young 14-year-old boy leaves his hometown to pursue his dream to play basketball and then at 18, leaving for the USA. How was it?
“At the beginning, everything was hard because I didn’t speak english, only spanish. But you know, when you have a dream, you have to work hard to achieve it, even if it scares you, like leaving home to go to the United States.“
Have you ever thought about “not making it”?
“I have never really thought about that. I’ve always thinking that if I work so hard, if I push myself so hard everyday to be the best version of myself, on and off the court, I’m gonna play somewhere. There are so many places, leagues, in the world to do what you love. I’ve never tought What if?”
There you also had a partner like Nigel Williams-Goss, a great protagonist in Europe in recent years.
“Nigel is my brother. We went to high school together. He is a great person, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. We played together in college when he was at Gonzaga, and we played pick-up games together. I’m glad where he is now, he deserves it.”
North Idaho College and Florida State to College. What years has it been for you?
“Being a basketball player from North Idaho College to Florida State, one of the biggest universities in the USA, makes me so proud. I’m proud that I’ve been a history maker for Colombian basketball. I’ve tried to push myself and be an inspiration to the generations.”
After an experience in the G-League, Europe. Belgium, Serbia, Israel and now Greece.
“All the experiences were very important for me. I had a lot of good teammates and coaches around me. Everything has been very important for me to reach what I want to be and where I want to play, NBA or Europe, what God will have for me. All the people around me help me to became the player I am today.”
“From What I know and what I read, Maccabi send several offers to AEK but sincerely I don’t know what happened next. I’m just thinking to play basketball.”
What does it mean for Braian Angola, playing for Colombia and being probably one of the most representative Colombian players?
“It is certainly one of the things that makes me most proud of all. Playing for Colombia and be one of the main players make me so proud. Those who know or will, my story I hope it can be a source of inspiration for many people and push them to give their best, day after day.“
Tell me about Andrea Trinchieri.
“Andrea Trinchieri is the best Coach I’ve ever had. We were together for 2 months at Partizan Belgrade. He’s a person that you can talk and that can tell you anything, even if you didn’t like it. Andrea Trinchieri is a very nice coach, but he always wants to help and protect you. One day, we were at the practice and he told me: “Don’t be shy, just score!”. During a game I was having a hard time on scoring, he takes me aside and says: “Don’t worry about how I tell you the message, whether I scream or not, just take the message I want to give you!”
Which Coach have been, except Andrea Trinchieri, so important in Braian Angola career? And a teammate?
“I had so many really good coaches. Hamilton at Florida State, Dario Gjergja at Oostende where he won a lot of championships and of course Coach Trinchieri. About the teammates, Terrence Ross is one of the best scorer… and I would like to say Novica Velickovic, who retired last year, a legend in Partizan. Dusan Djordjevic, a legend in Belgium and Quino Colom, my teammate here in AEK.”
If you have to tell me a teammate and an opponent, who is the strongest you’ve ever met?
“Evan Fournier, in practice when we played in Orlando. Then of course, Jayson Tatum at the college. You could already seen how strong he was and ready to be a star in the NBA.“
Last question, Prediction time.
“I hope the Phoenix Suns in the NBA, with an healthy Chris Paul, can win the title… in an NBA Final against the Milwaukee Bucks. But you know… maybe the Utah Jazz… About the EuroLeague, I would like to say that Olympiacos have chances to win the title. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Milano are very strong, but you know anything can happen.”
Braian Angola interview in italian coming soon.