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“I still want to play in the NBA”

By Niki Bakouli/

In a team with a former NBA player like Rudy Fernandez and a NBA prospect like Nikola Mirotic, Jaycee Carroll is stealing the show. Real Madrid’s sharp shooter had a big game in Liga Endesa against CB Canarias, he seems to be the hottest weapon of the “Queen” and he has the chance to prove it again in the Euroleague clash against Fenerbahce/ Ulker. Here is what he had to say to Eurohoops about Rudy, Real, his European experience and his desire to still make it to the NBA.

- How much better is… life, when you know you have by your side somebody to ease your “pain”? How Rudy Fernandez’s presence helped all of you to feel more at ease with your game and your choices?

“It’s really good to me to play here with such a good player on our perimeter. Everyone is focused on him in defense and it gives me and my teammates more shooting opportunities”.

- Against CB Canarias you were the one who scored the huge “triples” for 86-86. It was only natural, after you had score 23 points till that point. When you got the ball, what was on your mind?

“At this moment I felt I was shooting really well and I thought I could score every time. I had a lot of confidence on me”.

- And then Rudy sealed the victory. After the end of the game, he wrote the best for you on Twitter. Did you… reply? If not, what would you have write?

“I retweeted that message and it’s really good to have the support of a teammate. I thanked him for that tweet and I like to be like him on these situations. It’s good to hear people to talk about you in that way. It makes you feel better”.

- Let’s go back to the first day of this year’s Euroleague. Did you expect that Panathinaikos would be such a hard opponent after all the changes? And what you didn’t do like you were supposed to?

“We knew it’s going to be a tough game. We play against a really good team and we knew since the very first minute that it was going to be very difficult to get the victory. We started pretty well, scoring very easily, but in a few minutes they recovered the disadvantage we had. Finally we came back into the game and Draper helped us a lot, stealing five balls and scoring crucial points. It was our first Euroleague game and we’re still learning what we can give to the team”.

- Then you lost to Khimki, which is a strong team. Again, what you learned from this game?

“We learned that to get the victory we have to be focused on the game during 40 minutes. Physically we were on the game during the first 30 minutes, but not mentally. Then we reacted and we almost won the game, but we have to learn about those kind of situations”.

- Now, you have to face Fenerbahce which is among the favorites for the title. They changed everything during the summer, while you only had few moves. Is this an advantage for you, at this point?

“It’s good to have players that have played together previously, and it’s also good to have a coach who knows us perfectly and knows what we can give to the team, but they have great players, with a lot of experience, and they adapt themselves to the team easily. It’ll be a difficult game, for sure”.

- What can we expect to see on Thursday?

“It’s going to be a close game. Both teams are really good in offense because we both have a lot of options to score, but the defense will be crucial, the defense will be the key of the game”.

- What is the reality of a guy who is well known, from his college years, for his scoring prowess, his shooting ability and his range. What it takes to prove all these, year in, year out?

“The thing is that you don’t have to put on yourself a too much pressure to be the best scorer. A coach that I had at the university told me that you have to work in many other things, like defense, rebounding… If you do that the points will come, and that’s what I did during the last week: work for the team and try to give positive thing to other players. I followed the advice of my former players and finally I scored a lot of points”.

- In general, how fun is to be a Real Madrid’s player? I mean to work with all there talented guys, with respect and the best competitive spirit, as you try to keep this huge brand name at the top?

“In fact I am really happy to be here. I think about my future and sometimes I ask myself where I’d like to be at that point. More and more I’m answering Real Madrid. I’d like to be here a lot of years. I like the team, I like the city….We’ll see, but right now I feel this way”.

- Can you also tell us how is it to work with Pablo Laso?

“It’s really good. He’s the most positive coach that I’ve ever had. During my career I’ve had coach that shout you or criticize you, but Pablo always pushes you in the best way, in a positive way, being very constructive. If I become a coach in the future I’d like to be like him”.

- If you had to choose would you rather take the Liga Endesa’s title, or the Euroleague’s?

“It’s difficult to answer. If we win the Euroleague it’ll be incredible, but I haven’t won yet the Liga Endesa…. I will be very happy if we win one of them”.

- You tried two times to play to the NBA, through the summer league. It is still a dream of yours or you feel like Europe (actually Spain) is your home?

“I’ve tried several times to play there and I made good games at the practices, but I found my place in Europe and I’ll like to keep playing at this level in a club like Real Madrid. But of course I still want to play in the NBA, so I’ll have to think a lot about it if the possibility to play in the NBA appears”.

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