By Dionysis Aravantinos / firstname.lastname@example.org
During the last couple of years, Edy Tavares has turned into one of the best centers in Europe on both ends of the court. Real Madrid‘s 2.21cm tower is averaging 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague competition. Tavares is also shooting with an incredible 72.4% from the field.
The 28-year old star talked to Eurohoops about this season’s start with Real Madrid (8-5 record), going up against the two Greek teams this week, Facundo Campazzo’s departure, as well as the NBA.
How would you assess the team’s start to this EuroLeague season?
Edy Tavares: The team started a little bit slow, losing some games… It’s hard to get the pace of the best competition in Europe, but we improved, we changed and started to win games. Right now we’re better, but it’s true that our start of the competition was not the one we wanted.
On Tuesday, you’re going up against Panathinaikos. Over the past couple of years, you’ve had many battles with the Greek team, but how different will it be to play in an OAKA without fans?
ET: It’s sad to play in an arena like this without fans. Panathinaikos’s fans are passionate, they cheer a lot and, as a player, it’s good to play over there, with that atmosphere… It’s sad to play without fans and I hope we can have them soon with us.
What do you make of Panathinaikos this year? How different is it to not see them as contenders at the top of the standings, but instead see them in the 15th place?
ET: You never know how the season is going to end. The season is too long, you can have ups and downs, reach a winning streak… Maybe they started slow, but they can improve and they will, for sure. They are always a difficult opponent and we’ll see where they are at the end of the regular season.
Last Tuesday, your next opponent in Greece, Olympiacos beat Barcelona in Spain. Did you expect that and what did you make of their performance?
ET: They played a great game, I watched that game and they played great basketball, with intensity. They were focused during the whole game. They are a great team and they can beat everyone. In Euroleague you can’t think that you’re going to win one game for sure, every opponent is extremely difficult and it demands your 100%.
After a couple of years of missing the playoffs, Olympiacos’ goal for this season is clear. Make it to the top-8. Do you see them as a playoff contender?
ET: Yeah, of course, for sure. As I said, there are no weak teams in the Euroleague and there are a lot of teams that can reach the playoffs, and obviously, Olympiacos is one of them. They have a great roster.
A few weeks ago, your pick-and-roll buddy decided to sign a deal in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets. How much will Facundo Campazzo’s departure impact your game? How can Real Madrid fill in this gap?
ET: Facu is a great player, he played great in the pick-and-roll and I played very well with him. We understood each other a lot, but this is Real Madrid and the team is above all. We have Nico, Llull, Carlos… we have to make a great effort and be stronger as a team. We have to be focused on the team, work to be better, and keep growing.
Over the past decade, Real Madrid has been the team to beat in the ACB Spanish League. This year, however, in many people’s eyes, Barcelona is the favorite to win the Spanish League. Would you agree with that?
ET: Every year people talk about it, but the truth is that there are no favorites as we saw last year in the ACB Finals. We’ll see what happens at the end of the season but our goal right now is to work every day, give our all in every practice, in every game, and improve as a team step by step. I can’t forecast what will happen in the future.
You had a short stint in the NBA with the Cavaliers back in 2017. Is the NBA still on your bucket list?
ET: I’m really happy in Madrid and that’s what matters. I want to help the team win and that’s the only thing I have in my mind.
Have there been any NBA teams who have expressed interest in you?
ET: Yes, but I’m happy in Real Madrid, in the city. The best thing is to be happy wherever you are and I’m completely happy in Madrid.
Over the years, we’ve seen many undersized centers match up against you. How much do you respect undersized centers in Europe (such as Kyle Hines, Bryant Dunston, etc.) given their success?
ET: For me, it’s always a pleasure to play against these top centers. They’re great players that have been at the top level during the last 10 years. It’s not easy to maintain this level for such a period of time. I’m lucky to face these centers, to fight against them, and to learn of them.