By Niki Bakouli/ email@example.com
Sergio Scariolo had a busy and successful summer. After winning the silver medal at London’s Olympics with the Spanish national team, the Italian coach returned to Milan in order to lead EA7 to the top. The Italian capital of fashion and football has a golden chance this year to turn heads also for its basketball team and win the title from weakened champion Siena. But first of all, Milano will be tested in Euroleague’s tough group C and coach Scariolo is ready for the challenge.
- Is it safe to say EA7 Milano had to do this summer, only few… corrections to last year’s roster, so you can have a full puzzle (with each player having a specific role and all together creating a solid team)?
“In reality, we have five new players out of 12. Besides right now both Gentile and Melli are sidelined with injuries. But it’s true: we have a solid platform of returning players and normally this is good for a team”.
- You got Stipcevic for… Cook’s alter ego, Basile to add experience, Langford to add… points, Hendrix and Chiotti to add size and you kept Hairston -even though there were too many teams keeping an eye on him. Together with the guys who will continue from last year, what can we expect from your team?
“We want to improve, that’s it. Our attitude is always the same: we want to improve. We want to move up one step at a time, in Italy Cup, in Euroleague, in the Italian league. That’s our expectation. Obvious: after last year, improving is more difficult”
- From your point of view, last year was a failure after not getting to the Final Four? Or it was just the beginning of creating something great?
“To be honest when your budget to build the team is the tenth or the twelfth of the Euroleague, I don’t know exactly, overall, not making the Final Four is perfectly normal. Still, we fought very hard to make the playoffs and we didn’t succeed for a single basket. In this matter I don’t see many differences in the new season”.
- Let’s take a look at your Group (C). You have Olympiacos (they kept 11 players, from last year), Caja Laboral (which is always tough), Anadolu Efes (with a new coach and also few new players), Zalgiris (they got Joan Plaza and they also had big transfers) and Cedevita, also with a new coach, Mr. Maljkovic and big goals. Can you comment each one of your opponents?
“Right now not all the rosters are complete so it’s difficult to make predictions but you can safely say that our group is by far the most difficult one, the toughest. All the teams want to advance and have a realistic chance to do that. So, just advancing to the Top 16 will be challenging”.
- Only Mr Ivanovic and you from your group’s coaches are returning to their benches. Is this an advantage?
“Yes, it is. Not just because I am returning as coach but also because a good number of players are coming back giving us something to rely on. We’ll try to use this kind of familiarity among the team to our advantage”.
- If you take a look all around Europe and everything the Euroleague’s teams did this summer, which team comes first in your mind and why?
“CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce look like the best teams around for sure, but not every team has completed its roster so everything can still change. After that you have the usual group of teams, the Spanish teams, the Greek teams, Maccabi. It’s going to be very open and very competitive”.
- We read couple weeks ago, Panathinaikos asked from Milan to take back Fotsis and the administration denied twice this request. First of all, is it true and while we understand why you kept him, can you please tell me your thoughts about him?
“Antonis is one of the team’s cornerstones, a key player for our project so there were no doubts from my perspective about him staying with Milano. Both from a basketball standpoint and a personal standpoint I’m just happy Antonis is part of our team. I never had any reason to think differently”.
- Last but not least, I have to ask about Spain’s national team and your medal. Which are your strongest memories from the Olympic tournament’s journey?
“The strongest memories are the last ones. Coming back and winning against France and Russia, playing for 35 minutes at the same level of the Americans. against an incredible group of USA Team players. And so our players were incredible, too”.
- Are you going to continue working with the silver medalists?
“I’m in the process of analyzing everything about the FEB proposals. Obviously I’m very attracted but at the same time this is the time of the year where I feel I must focus on my club team, EA7 Milano. When the training camp will be over, I’ll have more time to seriously reflect on my future with the Spanish National Team”.
- And one more about Serie A. EA7 Milano is being consider as the favorite for next season. I know you prefer actions than words, but is this an extra burden on your shoulders?
“No, because being favorite, not being favorite, being the underdog, not being the underdog is something out of my control. I’ve been winning or trying to win for so many years that I know how difficult it is to win, and in the end I don’t expect this season to be any different. So our attitude is to improve day by day, step by step. And that’s it”.