Βy Semih Tuna / email@example.com
Gigi Datome and Fenerbahce BEKO are de facto contenders. Despite a new format, new names in the roster and a really competitive league, the Italian forward who decided to stay in Istanbul last summer feels that his team will be ready and also that despite the issues that the players are facing, due to long travels and busy schedule, the league is going towards the right direction.
– Fenerbahce fans were happy after you extended your contract. What can you tell us about this process?
“It was easy. The coach said he wanted to keep me on the team together with other players in order to maintain a successful core. Coach Obradovic, GM Maurizio Gherardini and the players we will continue to fight together for all the trophies as long as they want me. I love this place, the club, the people we work with, the people we live with every day, the fans, the city. So it was really easy. There were no negotiations. Of course, we talked about the details but they said they wanted me. I said I wanted to stay. They also said okay”.
– This year, many players came from the NBA to EuroLeague. What do you think is the reason behind this?
“I think that the EuroLeague organization is developing rapidly at the level of competition. So many players know that if they come to the EuroLeague, they will be part of high-level competition. Many players know that they have to work hard and play well in order to compete here. It’s not easy for NBA players. So everyone’s decision has to do with himself, everyone’s career is different, of course. But EuroLeague is developing a lot and this format will be increasingly interesting”.
– Two more teams will join the EuroLeague this season. In the regular season, you will play 34 matches. This number is increasing with the BSL games. Travels, practices … Do you think the EuroLeague schedule is more intense than it should be?
“I think that’s the direction we should go. It’s nice to play as many games as you can. I have the honor to be president of the Players Association and we are working to improve the conditions of players in the league. We strive towards bringing better traveling standards because in this season the calendar will be very difficult. Players will need to rest in order to have better performance. But I love this project. There are 17 teams, we will visit each city. It’s real basketball. We also chose this path. We will rest when we retire”.
– You’ve been playing EuroLeague for years. Do you think this season will be harder?
“Yeah, maybe yes. Many teams have really become better, at least on paper. They spent a lot of money to get better. However, as always, we will see how teams play, how they build chemistry on the court. So I’m looking forward to the beginning of the season and can’t wait to get ready with my teammates to be ready to fight”.
– Fenerbahce retained its core and included quality players in its roster. You’ve been playing against Nando De Colo for years. How does it feel to be a teammate with him now?
“I’d rather have him on my team than any other competitor. Because of course he is a very good player. His career says it all. I’m glad he’s with us now. Maybe it won’t be easy to adapt. In spite of his great talent… Nevertheless, we must do our best to help him because he is changing countries and changing cities. But of course, I am very happy that he, Derrick Williams, Berkay Candan, Leo Westermann came. Now we have to stay together to work together”.