By Antigoni Zachari / email@example.com
Nemanja Bjelica is on to his second season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and he has grown a lot over the course of a year. He opened up about the new season, how injuries have actually helped his lifestyle and his motivation on sportklub.rs.
His rookie season in Timberwolves started great, then injuries came in the way. Now, Bjelica has spent almost a year in Minnesota and is ready to face new challenges.
“Coach Thibodeau and I talked about my role in the team and how Minnesota has built a young team for the future with lots of room for improvement. The coach is thinking several steps ahead and has set up a really disciplined plan. Maybe that’s what the team has been lacking.”
Bjelica has worked with the elite of European coaches, Pesic, Ivanovic, Obradovic, Ivkovic and Djordjevic and he notes that Thibodeau’s style isn’t far from what he’s been used to:
“Thibodeau is a simple man. Defense is the foundation of our games. We practice a variety of defense, transition, three to two and two on one, then pick n’ roll, followed by long range shooting exercises. Then at the end we go on five of five to five situations.”
The Serbian international averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in his rookie season, but has not played a lot with the ball in his hands, something which is about to change this season.
“Wiggins and Towns are the future of the franchise. As for me, I had trouble getting used to certain things last year, but now I know exactly what I should do on the court. The coach trusts me, I have the freedom to play. I feel comfortable and I can do what I know best, helping my teammates. Last year he asked me to be a classic stretch four, and now I will be more point forward. The coach is trying to find a role for me similar to what I did in Fenerbahce.”
One of the things that Nemanja dedicated to change during the past year was his diet. He has matured and now better understands how important it is to pay attention to his own body.
“I stopped eating that which everybody loves, sugar. I wish I was thinking this way when I was younger, now I feel bad about it. I realized that what happened to my leg was like as a warning.”
Going to the gym in order to improve his body was also one of his big lifestyle changes. “I’ve been in a classic program for the whole body – hands, feet, basketball training, fitness. I go to the gym four to five times a week, twice a day. I’ve worked hard and I know it will pay off in the season”
Bjelica explains that it was not difficult to find motivation: “Once you get in the NBA rhythm, it is necessary to be committed. It may sound cruel to say basketball is a job, but it is. It looks attractive on the outside but it’s really tough while you’re at it.”
Ever since 2009, Bjelica has been wearing the Serbian national team jersey and has not missed a single year with the national team. “We’ve gone through good and bad things and we are like family, especially since Sasha Djordjevic arrived. I do hope to have a chance to experience the Olympics again in four years.”