By Eurohoops Team / firstname.lastname@example.org
With MVP honors and a gold medal from EuroBasket 2022, Willy Hernangomez expected a much bigger role with the New Orleans Pelicans this season, but it didn’t happen for him.
The Spaniard played 38 regular season games, averaging 12,1 minutes on the court, scoring 6,9 points and 4,7 rebounds, and haven’t even made it to the playoffs.
“It has been a long and complicated course in which we have not been able to achieve our objective, which was to get into the playoffs. On an individual level, it has also been long and frustrating, but good. They are things of the past and you must look to the present and the near future. In less than a month I will know where I will be next season. Very eager for challenges,” Hernangomez said.
It wasn’t easy being left aside, but the former Real Madrid player tried to make the best of his situation.
“The roles are different. It was a moment of a bit of frustration, of not understanding… not because of that summer, but because I showed every day and in the games that I deserved a position. An opportunity. In the end, they decided on the rotation from the beginning of the season and it was not changed. What he decided was to use it as motivation: if I do everything possible and the situation doesn’t change, I have to do something else. It was my mentality, always be prepared for when the opportunity comes. It is a season to look at the present.”
Willy talked to the Pelicans about his future, and his goals are clear – a bigger role and a ring.
“I explain it here as in the meeting I had with them at the end of the season. I want to play. My only reason for being in the United States is because I want to play basketball, I want to feel important, I want to show that I can be one of the best centers in the league and I want to fight or help my team get a ring“.
He enjoyed his time in New Orleans, but first and foremost, the 29-year-old wants to play.
“I love it. I feel at home. It is the team in which I have been the longest in my career, neither Seville nor Madrid. I want to play, but if they see that I’m not part of the rotation, like this year, then I’d rather look for another franchise and be able to continue growing. They understand my position, but in the end, it is their decision. A month from now I will know where I am.”
After deciding on his NBA future, Hernangomez will turn his focus to the upcoming FIBA World Cup. Spain is defending the throne and is placed in Group G (Indonesia Arena, Jakarta) along with Iran, Ivory Coast, and Brazil.
“We will fight every game. We will leave our skin, then the tournament will tell us where we are. You have to enjoy and compete and we are under the command of Sergio Scariolo who is our leader and our teacher. He knows us all very well.”
His former team, and some teammates, won the EuroLeague title less than two weeks ago. Real Madrid went from 0-2 in the playoffs, trailing throughout most of the final against Olympiacos, to eventually winning the trophy thanks to Sergio Llull’s difficult two-pointer, with three seconds to go. Willy wasn’t surprised.
“Not me. Real Madrid has the grit and courage they have to fight for whatever it is. I think that nobody was betting on Madrid, much less winning against Barcelona and much less winning in the final. But it is a game and the one who believes it the most and the one who wants it the most is the one who will win it,” Willy Hernagomez concluded.