He might be a little under the radar in the rest of Europe, but one player that any basketball fan in Spain knows to keep an eye on is Tau Ceramica point guard Jose Manuel Calderon. Fast, aggressive and fearless, Calderon has helped lift Tau to new heights as a Final Four team. It says enough about Calderon's significance to the team that the only two Euroleague games Tau has lost in its last eight, he was injured. Calderon is now healthy and facing the challenge of the season against CSKA in the semifinals on Friday, May 6. As he makes clear in his Fan Mail answers, Calderon thinks Tau has as good a chance as any team to take home the Euroleague title. Let's see if we can take this chance," Calderon said in his answers. "Our team is playing well lately. If things continue that way, personally and collectively, we can win the Euroleague title, then the work we did all season long will pay off."
Hello Jose Manuel, I am French but a big Tau fan. How can Tau defend a great point guard duo like J.R. Holden and Theodoros Papaloukas? Thanks!
"Well, it is clear that both are great players. Even though both Holden and Papaloukas can be really good or not, when speaking about high-level players, the most important thing is collective defense and counting on help from your teammates."
Hey, Jose! Congratulations from Vitoria and a fulltime Tau fan. Do you think our team can beat CSKA? I hope so.
"Well, I think we can, of course. I think that all four teams which made it to Moscow can win the Euroleague title, that we all have chances. It all depends on one game and anyone can beat anyone. We just need to play at our best level and stay focused."
Hello Jose Manuel, from Lithuania! I am a big fan of Arvydas Macijauskas. How did you guys celebrate the qualification to the Final Four?
"To tell you the truth, it was a really close game, both teams had a lot of pressure and so the game was not as good as the first one in Treviso. We were all happy to celebrate and we all went out to dinner together. We didn't do much more, because we had a Spanish League game that weekend, but we celebrated all together. It was the first time not only for the club but for all players in our roster."
Hello Jose, I have two questions. How does it feel to go to your first Final Four? Is this the best moment of your career?
Stefano Tumminello, Italy
"Well, I think it is the best moment in my career. Everything is working out for me and I am happy to keep improving my game year after year. Let's see if we can take this chance. Our team is playing well lately. If things continue that way, personally and collectively, we can win the Euroleague title, then the work we did all season long will pay off."
Hi Jose, I have been a Baskonia season ticket holder for a long time and even though I won't go to Moscow, I will be supporting you guys from home and giving my soul for the team. My question is: Will nerves be important at the Final Four?
"I don't think that being nervous will be a factor. We all have played very important games throughout our careers. I would say that we won't be nervous, but anxious to see the start of the game. I don't really feel nervous, buy willing to play and prove that we can win the game. You play a lot of important games in each season, so you are nervous when you are younger. Right now, you just feel concentrated and willing to play."
Hello Jose Manuel. As the first Spanish team at a Final Four since 2003, does Tau Ceramica also represent the Spanish League and Spanish basketball in Moscow?
Pedro Vizuete, Caceres, Spain
"Well, I guess it is quite clear and not only all Tau fans, but the whole Spanish basketball community will be supporting us, and that's important. We have to give our best to everyone supporting us, which like I said, will be a lot of people in Spain. Spanish fans will be with us the same way that all people root for any other Spanish team when it reaches the Final Four."
Greetings from Piotr in Poland. You are one of the most athletic players around and your jumping skills are unbelievable! Is it natural or do you train it somehow?
Piotr Jakubowski, Poland
"I never did any specific training to jump higher. It is something natural: you jump and that's it. The only training I do is with the whole team, where you train a little bit of everything. Sometimes you train your jumping skills and other days you practice something else."
Hi Jose. Tau has lost to CSKA four times in the last two seasons, all close games. Is it an advantage for Tau to know your opponent so well?
Patxi Galletebeitia, San Sebastian
"It is an advantage because we already know what we don't have to do. All four games were close and also very similar to each other. We know what went wrong, and it's clear that we have to play better and more focused in the final minutes. We have the advantage of knowing our mistakes and we have to get benefits from that."
Hey Jose.. Do you think that Arvydas Macijauskas is the best shooter in Europe? How does it feel to play with him? Thank you and good luck!
Donatas Malonaitis, Lithuania
"I think he is the best shooter in Europe, at least the best shooter I have seen and it is very difficult to stop him. Playing with him is a pleasure, because it's easy to give him the ball and make him score. He is the kind of player everyone would like to have in his team."
Hi there, I am a Barcelona fan but my preferences are with you guys since my team is out of the Final Four. Jasikevicius and Parker, Holden and Brown, Lakovic, you and Macijauskas... How important will be perimeter players in this year's Final Four?
Manel Mauri, Barcelona
"Well, I believe that they will be important, but it's difficult to say right now. We will see about the importance of perimeter players during the game, not right now. Everything is important, inside and outside players, and especially playing as a team. The team which works better will be the one who wins the title, and you need that kind of mentality to win it all."
Hello Jose Manuel. What would you highlight about all your three opponents in the Final Four?
"We know Panathinaikos very well. They have a very deep roster and everyone can play one-on-one. They have a lot of great players and their rotation makes the team better. We haven't seen Maccabi that much but it's a high-quality team, that's why the are the Euroleague holders. (Sarunas) Jasikevicius knows how to get everyone involved, and (Nikola) Vujcic is also a very important player for them. About CSKA, they are a very solid team, with players that would be stars in any other team but who play for the team. They have a lot of players who need the ball in their hands. Like I said, it is a solid team, but it is not invincible."
Hola Jose, from Argentina. I want to ask you about Tau and my countrymates. How much importance had all the Argentinians you had over the years in the team's success?
Jorge Castellini, Buenos Aires, Argentina
"It has been an important part of our success. We all know the character the Argentine players have, and the will and energy they put into every action. We have had Argentines on the team throughout the last few years and you see how things have gone for us, so you can imagine they played a big role in that."