By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
New Orleans Pelicans center, with almost 11 years of experience in the NBA, talked to Mundo Deportivo about different topics, including his fellow countrymen, Barcelona player and head coach Rokas Jokunaitis and Sarunas Jasikevicius, and the possibility of them joining him in the US.
In the 2021 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks selected Jokubaitis with the 34th pick, and Tom Thibodeau recently said he would like to see him in Knicks’ uniform.
“Rokas next year in the NBA? I don’t know. He is showing good basketball, playing good minutes. Together with Saras, they have a good connection. He is doing well. If he continues like this and stays healthy and productive, this summer will be fantastic,” Valanciunas said.
Jonas met Jasikevicius as a player in Lietuvos Rytas in 2010 and believes he can jump to the NBA.
“Jasikevicius is doing well. He always has the team up in the Euroleague and the league, and he is a mastermind of basketball. He is a fantastic coach. He can do anything, and he has the opportunity to go wherever he wants to go.”
Valanciunas also praised his teammate Willy Hernangomez.
“Willy is a fantastic guy, always staying humble, working hard, and waiting for his chance. He is a locker room boy who makes everything easy and is very dear to me.”
The Lithuanian center is playing his 12th season in the NBA and is starting to develop new aspects of his game, like assisting.
“The sky’s the limit. I try to add something to my game every night, learn something, and be better at something. The physique is going down with age. It’s about understanding that and being a smart player. I try to be myself, and I have to keep pushing; this league is very tough,” Jonas said. “I am 30 years old and feel good; age is just a number. I need more rest and care, but I feel good.”
He also talked about differences between the EuroLeague and the NBA, and the possibility of teams from those leagues meeting in the future, potentially in some mid-season tournament.
“They are different basketballs. The one in the NBA is more athletic and is played with more rhythm. The one in the Euroleague has more plays and is played more with structures. It is more related to the preparation of the games. The Euroleague has fantastic basketball, but it’s hard to say what could happen.”
FIBA World Cup is upcoming, and Jonas Valanciunas wants to stay humble.
“The first thing is that the season ends, and everyone stays healthy before returning to work. It will be a tough summer, there are great teams, and we’ll have to prepare hard. Is our goal a medal? Many teams talk about medals before the tournament, but we remain humble. We have a young group of guys who are learning together. We’ll see; I don’t like to talk before,” Valanciunas said to Mundo Deportivo.