Barcelona won every title possible last season and played in the EuroLeague final. With the core of the team intact and Sarunas Jasikevicius having delivered on his first year with the team, season 2 is coming and everyone hopes that it will include the EuroLeague title.
“Our goals will always be the same”, explained Saras to Eurohoops during the EuroLeague media day as the Catalans aim for the “triple-crown” with four key changes in the roster and Pau Gasol’s presence remaining a question mark at this point.
The European basketball legend has not decided yet if he will retire or not and even Saras doesn’t have any news to give about his decision.
Eurohoops: Year two as head coach of FC Barcelona. Are you feeling any different than last season?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: Maybe everything is a little bit easier. The guys know what to expect from me, I already know most players from the roster and this makes everything easier. But we also need to include the many young players we have this season, there are four of them so we have work to do.
EH: Even though you were always talking about getting better and keep improving as a team in order to build something, the team won two of the three big titles and was really close to winning them all. Is this the major goal this season?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: Our goals will always be the same, to keep improving during the season, make sure the project keeps developing, get better year after year, and be consistent in our work and games. We need to keep growing and never stop being ambitious.
EH: Last season was your first one as FC Barcelona head coach and things went very well, winning Liga ACB, Copa del Rey, and making it to the Final game of Euroleague. Did you expect to win so much in year one?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: I don’t expect to win or lose, we just try to get better every day, make sure every training is good and make the most of them. This is also one of our goals this season, to keep like this and focus on every day rather than on long-term things.
EH: Four new players have come to the team and four have left. With Bolmaro also probably leaving and Pau Gasol still being a question mark, this means that you will have fewer players available than the previous season, where Barça played 90 games, more than any European team in history. Are you worried about this situation?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: No. I think that with a 15 player roster somebody could be not that happy but we have to say that we have a very good academy. Four young players are training with us, some of them are having trouble adapting to the team but the plan is that they will have chances with us and I hope they are smart enough to make use of them. A thirteen or fourteen-player roster is enough, but we also need to make sure that every player feels important and not that he only plays some games.
EH: You just came back from Andorra where you had a couple of preseason games and where we could see a lot of action from the young players. What role do you think they will play this season?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: We don’t know yet. They have to adapt to the team first, they are lacking many things but they have a lot of talent and their future is promising. We have to be patient with them because this adaptation takes more or less time depending on the player, but overall we are very happy with them.
EH: Less than a month for the first Euroleague game but only a few days until the first trophy will be decided, the Supercopa de España. How do you see the team right now?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: It’s hard to tell. I think nobody will make it there at their 100%. It’s a very useful tournament to see how the team is at this point of the season, it will be great to see what our shape is and try to win of course.
EH: We talked about the new players and some that left, I mentioned the name Pau Gasol… Any news on his situation?
Sarunas Jasikevicius: No. (Laughs) If I knew something I would tell you, but I don’t know anything.