The 30-year-old Barcelona captain spoke to La Gazzetta about the change the Catalan club made in the summer and a few hours before the match against Olympiacos, he commented on the “red and whites” and their coach. What did he say about Jasikevicius and the depression he experienced, and what advice did he give to Rubio?
When you know that this person has – relatively recently (in 2019) – suffered from an illness that is not easy to diagnose and you see him looking you in the eyes and at almost every turn of speech, a big smile breaks out, then you really feel like you are his conversation partner!
The reason is his Alex Abrincewho was in the middle of his third season with Oklahoma City Thunder (2018-2019), it started to fall apart. First mentally, then physically. And all this without the exams showing the slightest thing.
The bottom line is that after 4.5 years, he is a different person, continuing what he loves and doing at the highest level, while representing – as captain – the basketball team of one of the biggest clubs in the world.
His meeting magazine With the baby born in Palma de MallorcaAlex is in the hotel lobby as her mission has been cancelled Barcelona Our conversation had it all.
We talked about the summer adjustments in the Blaugrana ranks, sir Sarunas Yasikiviciusfor him Olympicfor him Bartzukafor him Juancho Hernangomet And of course the adventure of depression and the advice he gave him Ricky Rubiowho put his career on hold to address his mental health.
• Alex, you are the leader and the oldest in the group and your opinion carries the most weight. In the summer, a lot changed at the club, the budget from Mirotic’s senior contract was released and significantly reduced, while a former player and team captain, Rose Grimau, was chosen for the position of coach, but he does not have the powers. Lowest experience at the highest level. With all that said, would you describe this season as a transitional season for Barcelona or do the goals remain as high as they are every year?
“Normally, that’s how it should be! With so many things happening! I would also like to add the 4 new players who came, so we can say since last June, in 4 months, the little “universe” of the club’s data has been achieved! But when we talk about Barcelona, we have to be realistic and fully linked to the championship and title-winning mentality that prevails in the team…»
• But the photos of the first match show that the team does not appear to be affected by the changes, nor by the cuts, nor by the change of coach, nor by the debt amounting to 56 million euros, which it has recently become known that the basketball club has been affected by. Been carrying it since last year. How do you feel about your adaptation so far?
“Especially in the Europa League, I agree! From a point of view we played our best game against Efes. I can’t say the same for the rest of the ACB and Supercopa matches. But it makes perfect sense that it takes adjustment and more time, because it involves all the things I said earlier. New coach, new system, new players, new atmosphere… I feel that the team has great potential to shine in all competitions. »
• From a very demanding and intrusive coach who did not allow much freedom to the player, to a beginner who seemed closer to the players and more condescending in his coaching method. How is the transition going and is this year’s model easier for you?
“On the players side, it’s definitely easier! Because from a coach who was loyal to tactics, with whom I was accustomed to voices, pressure, discipline, minimal freedoms and individual initiatives, we went to a novice at this level, but who has a different philosophy, much more receptive in listening to our opinions and changing his plan several times and who is more relaxed. There is no doubt that Roget (SS: Grimau) He will need time to replace Saras, who for me is a great coach, one of the top three coaches in Europe!»
• In the last three years of Saras, the team won four titles (2 leagues and 2 cups) and reached 3 and 4 finals, despite all of this perhaps a part of public opinion considered the coach’s departure a failure. What do you think and do you think the back-to-back Final 4 failures played a role?
“Obviously, his departure was for financial reasons! The exorbitant debts I mentioned above, which emerged recently, have forced management to move in a different direction this season, cutting the largest contracts. How can Jasikevicius be considered a failure with 4 titles and 3 consecutive finals in three years on the team’s bench? Would it be crazy to think something like this when Barcelona under Saras have had perhaps the most successful and longest run of form the club has had in the last 14 years? But of course when you arrive twice, one step before the final and another, minutes before touching the cup, you have to find a way to get it…»
• During eight years at Barcelona, you won 7 titles and played 5 in the Final 4. Is winning the Euroleague the biggest challenge for you, but also the title that the club has been searching for for 14 years?
“Definitely because I now have fewer years of basketball than I have played so far! The last three years, we’ve had a great regular season run, made it to the Final Four and captured the Cup, but in the end something always went wrong. I miss this title very much and I want to win it more than anything else, as is the case with the club that has tasted this joy since 2010. I hope that this year will be our year, because the closer it gets, the closer it gets. Well, the rule of law says that at some point you will start drifting apart from each other… You never know how things will turn out from year to year… »
• How do you see Olympiacos this year, which lost its most important players in the summer? Do you think they can have a similar season to the previous two reaching the Final Four and the Premier League Final and remain one of the elite teams in the competition?
“Olympiacos is a big club. The truth is that it has lost Vezenkov and its behavior and has not lost its identity as a team. On the contrary, it maintains its principles and with a few additions it is able to maintain itself at the highest level and is rightfully considered among the best teams in Europe. The work done by the coach and his team “speaks” for itself. The character he built as an organization. On the competitive side, it seems to me a team that consistently makes very few mistakes and has a very high percentage of correct decisions. I hope tomorrow (SS: tonight) Let’s make an exception to the rule…»
• It did not work with Barzoca because in the season he worked at Barcelona (2016-2017), she went to the NBA. Have you heard about it, do you have a formed opinion?
“Yes, that’s also true because we were discussing this matter the other day with Sato. (Note: In the summer of 2016, Satoransky also left with Abrines to join the NBA), I’m sorry about that! Maybe my career would have taken a different direction if I had lived with coach Bartzukas at Barcelona. Everyone who worked with him spoke of his personality and kindness. In Barcelona he was not lucky, he did not get the treatment he deserved and the truth is that I was sad for him at the time! The basketball played by their teams, in this case Olympiacos, is effective and at the same time attractive for the viewer and a friend of the sport, the players are happy to play with him, so he deserves a lot of credit!»
• Tell us – as best you can – what you and the Hernangomet brothers were talking about in the summer with the Spanish national team, before the new season?
“We were cursing Juancho because he didn’t come to Barcelona to create a great team and not be beaten (He laughs…)! Well, in a good way, of course we were joking… We teased him and told him for example that we had the “bad brother” and Panathinaikos got the “softer” brother! we laughed a lot! We are talking about a terrible kid and a wonderful player, part of his value was shown in the Eurobasket final last year, where he played (R: 27 points from 7 three-pointers), He played a crucial role in the Spanish national team winning the gold medal. He will be one of the most important “tools” of coach Ataman and the efforts made to return the Greek national team to the European elite!»
• You were one of the players who chose to voice the depression issue you faced during your time in the NBA. How did you discover this, how did you overcome it, and if you speak up, what advice would you give to your national team teammate Ricky Rubio who chose to retire to deal with his mental health?
“It was definitely the hardest time of my life! With tests I had for a month in Oklahoma showing nothing, I felt broken! Total ass! I started getting headaches, weakness, body aches, and sometimes it got to the point where I no longer wanted to get up from the couch, move my body, and do the smallest thing. If today I am in basketball and I am the captain of Barcelona, for which I thank from the bottom of my heart for the second chance you gave me, I owe it to the difficult decision I made then to leave the sport. Since I was a child I have loved and engaged myself, starting with Reclaiming My Mind. What I said to Ricky was on the same wavelength (SS: Rubio), When he asked me… “Take your time, turn off your cell phone, find your own space, deal exclusively with yourself and your family! Only by staying away from everything and everyone will you be able to find your way again, feel your appetite and smile again.”.. .»
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