Your season and Anadolu Efes season are absolutely amazing, great protagonists of this EuroLeague. Tell me about this season.
“I am very happy with the team and how we are playing. We have achieved excellent results, taking fourth place with a few days in advance in EuroLeague and at the same time being first in the Turkish League. Much credit is due to my teammates even if we are a team that play together since not many years, not like Fenerbahçe or other teams. I am extremely happy with my role in the team because I know that everything does not happen randomly but with a certain reason and thanks to the sacrifices. ”
Is there the feeling to be finally the first team in Istanbul over Fenerbahçe?
“I honestly believe that Fenerbahçe has the best team game in Europe, even better than the year they won the EuroLeague. Fenerbahçe is the best EuroLeague team, everyone has their role and they are very organized but we are also very happy to have defeated them 3 times this season.”
MVP of the month of November in EuroLeague. How did you feel?
“It means a lot to me! Basketball is a team sport and if the team does not win, it does not count for anything. But if you play well and you can contribute to win, it’s a good thing and we must continue on this way.”
How important was Zalgiris Kaunas to you? Last year was an incredible season ended with the Final Four in Belgrade.
“It was very important. We started like underdogs, almost no one believed we could get to the Final Four. Any result obtained in that season would have been a success and we worked hard to do what no one thought possible. I thank Jasikevicius and Zalgiris for what they have made for me and I think I made the right decision to leave the team at the end of the season. “
You have worked with Sarunas Jasikevicius and Ergin Ataman in the last two seasons. How much did they help you and what role did they have for your personal growth as a player?
“I learned a lot from Jasikevicius, in particular on the details. He is a Coach who follows every detail with great care, makes you learn a lot, especially the Playmakers. We did lots of pre and post game video sessions, it was very useful for me growing as a player. With Ataman I try to apply the teachings of last year. His way of playing is much free and it allows me to do my best. “
FIBA World Cup. Serbia will be in the same group as Italy. Will it be a world championship with Serbia as the protagonist?
“Yes, we will be in the same group and it won’t be easy because Italy is a very good team. It is great to be able to participate in an important competition like the World Cup, where the best players in the world challenge each other. We have a very strong team, but you have to pay attention to many teams such as Canada and Australia, which should not be underestimated. I am confident, we have many chances to do well with our roster.
Who surprised you most in this EuroLeague season?
“I was very so surprised by Panathinaikos. After Rick Pitino’s arrival, they are playing a great basketball and they started doing it right away, with his debut against us in Athens, where they defeated us. He applied his basketball ideology in Europe, playing very well. I also want to mention Baskonia, author of a great season without the injured Shengelia and Granger, as they shown also in the recent win against Real Madrid. As for the players, no doubt Mike James. He is playing an amazing season, even if I sincerely prefer to play basketball differently, but it’s impossible not to appreciate how much he’s doing. ”
You were chosen in 2014 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Is this a dream still present in your mind?
“If I told you it wasn’t a dream, I’d be lying to you. My mind is focused on Efes, I don’t want to go to a team just to fill the bench and not to have the opportunity to show my skills. I will play another year in Europe, then we’ll decide what to do. If there will be an opportunity, I’ll be ready, otherwise it’s okay! “
Do you follow the NBA or do you prefer watch European basketball?
“I follow a lot the NBA! I support Denver Nuggets, because Nikola Jokic is playing really well. We have played together and I’m happy how he’s playing in the NBA right now.”
Where will we see you next year? The rumors say you are in the notebook of top European clubs like Real Madrid …
“I have not heard anything and I am very focused on the current season. I want to do well, gain minutes to prove that I am a great player. We have to finish the season the best, we haven’t done anything yet. Then at the end of the season we will what happen.”
Prediction time. Who will win the EuroLeague and the NBA Championships?
“Golden State in the NBA is the favorite. With the full roster, I think that in Playoffs they will make the quality jump to win the ring. They maybe will lose one, two games, but in a series of Playoffs they are invincible. The Fenerbahçe remains absolute favorite in EuroLeague. The Final Four are particular games and do not reflect the trend of the entire season, so anything can happen, with some players playing two amazing games and eliminating more quoted teams, but Fenerbahçe has the right experience and I think it is the favorite for the final victory. “