Nikola Kalinic seeking titles at Barcelona: “This is why we are here”

2022-09-30T11:13:13+00:00 2022-09-30T11:20:20+00:00.

Alex Molina Perello

30/Sep/22 11:13

Eurohoops.net

From 2022 EuroBasket to a new challenge at the club level at FC Barcelona for Nikola Kalinic

Por Alex Molina / info@eurohoops.net

A former Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion, Nikola Kalinic brings that winning experience to FC Barcelona.

Kalinic, 30, went all the way in 2017 playing for Fenerbahce. Following one-year stints at Valencia and Crvena Zvezda mts, he joined the Catalonia giant on a two-year contract in July.

Talking exclusively to Eurohoops during the annual Media Day hosted by Barca, he opened up on his side falling short in the 2022 Supercopa Endesa and adapting to a new environment to start the 2022-23 season at the club level.

Check out his interview with Eurohoops:

Eurohoops: We are about to start the official season, how do you feel right now?

Nikola Kalinic: We feel good, obviously we aren’t as happy as we were because of the Supercopa. We lost against Real Madrid in the final but it’s OK, it was our first meeting. We are starting to learn about each other, they played a lot of times last season and the newcomers are just getting a feel about how it is. We are feeling good, we are confident, practicing hard, and getting as ready as possible for the upcoming challenges.

EH: What do you think went wrong in that Supercopa final? You had a pretty big lead but it wasn’t enough for Barça to get the title. 

NK: We allowed them too many easy points with our mistakes. And the inspiration of Sergio Llull, showing one more time that he is an amazing player, a player of rhythm. We know how Madrid plays in waves and we didn’t react well to this wave that they had in the third quarter. They changed the game, we had our chances in overtime but I think they are, at this moment, playing together for a longer time, their functioning at this moment is better but we will be improving. It’s not an excuse, we had the game in our hands and it slipped away. We had overtime but we didn’t react well, it was a tight game and both teams could win it.

EH: Season is on the verge of starting when it comes to clubs but you played this summer with Serbia in the Eurobasket. Things didn’t go well, do you feel that maybe the expectations were too high and this ended up being negative for your national team?

NK: I don’t think so, it’s always like that with Serbia, some times we end with a medal, other times we don’t. We changed some things at halftime but it wasn’t a good change. That’s it, we lost the game. Maybe the mistake was that we wanted to win by 20 because of those expectations, we wanted to show that we are so much better and to win by 20 or 30 points, but we only needed to win by one point. Maybe that’s a lesson that we can learn from for future competitions and games.

EH: Two years ago you were playing in Valencia, which was your first time playing in Spain. After playing last year in Serbia you will be playing in Liga Endesa again this season, was playing once again in the best league in Europe something that was important for you when you decided to sign with Barça?

NK: Yes, of course. I’m thinking if there is another league but it’s probably the best league in Europe and the best players are playing here. Every team can play really well, they play fast and all the coaches are coaching well, a lot of tactics and tricks. It’s a pleasure to play and if you are a competitor, if you want to play at the highest level you want to come to Spain.

EH: Your arrival in Barcelona wasn’t easy. You were under contract with Crvena Zvezda and negotiation with Valencia Basket was also needed, can you explain the whole process? 

NK: There were some problems because of that ‘tanteo’ rule in the ACB. That was a problem but in the end, they did a really good job both the Barça management and my agents. We managed to solve everything, to make all three or four sides happy and in the end, I’m here, that’s the only thing important. It wasn’t something of minutes, today everybody is hurrying, they want to finish everything in one day but it took two or three weeks.

EH: You didn’t have the chance to play against Sarunas Jasikevicius when he was still playing but you played many times against Jasikevicius once he started his coaching career. What do you think about him now he is your coach? 

NK: As you said, he was an amazing player and I’m sad that I didn’t play against him. I think he is a great coach so far, we all saw how he led Zalgiris, they achieved amazing things and we saw how they played with him. Without him, they didn’t make it to the playoffs and reached the Final Four with him. Obviously, he is a great coach and he is also very motivated, he is a perfectionist. We are getting to know each other but I like him so far and I think we will have great cooperation.

EH: You are one of the few players on the roster that know what winning the Euroleague feels like. Would you say that this is the main goal for the season? 

NK: Yes, this is why we are here. If you are in Barça you want to win every cup, from Copa Catalana to ACB. But obviously, it would give us the biggest pleasure if we manage to lift the Euroleague title, that’s why you are here.

EH: After many years without making it to the Final Four, Barça has managed to be there two years in a row. Despite not being able to win the title on either of those occasions, do you think that this is what Barça should aim for? To be able to reach the Final Four consistently? 

NK: Probably yes, you have to be there. You have to be one of those four teams and if you are there, sooner or later you are going to win it. If you are good enough to be there in May you are going to win it. You have to feel the atmosphere, have the experience, feel the intensity and then you can react and you can win it.

EH: How are you liking Barcelona so far? 

NK: So far I am loving it, it’s one of my favorite cities for sure, it was on the top of the list to come here in my career when I was starting to play. I wanted to live here one day, I like the vibe, the architecture, the beach, the sun, the parks, the people… So far it has been great and I’m hoping it’s going to be great until the end of the season… and of the contract.