The avalanche of Fan Mail that came in for Arvydas Macijauskas of Olympiacos proves one thing for sure: despite his having hardly played for the last two seasons, the sharpshooter once nicknamed "Kalashnikov" for his accuracy is still a favorite around Europe. Even though he sat out most of last year injured, Macijauskas is considered the leader on a team that has largely changed around him in recent months. After the Reds split their first two regular season games in Group A, Macijauskas is clear about the fact that with an almost completely new roster, Olympiacos has a lot of room for improvement. "I believe we are stronger than last year and we only need time now," he said in one Fan Mail answer. "The season just started, and we all know the most important games are later, in March and April, and we plan to be ready for those."
Macas, for Olympiacos, what are the differences between the team that we saw last year and this year's team?
Giorgos Dounis - Greece
"The season has only started and we've only played a couple of Euroleague games: one was a great home game that we won, the next a terrible game we played at Ljubljana. So, it's a new team with a lot of new players and we need a little time. I believe we are stronger than last year and we only need time now. The season just started, and we all know the most important games are later, in March and April, and we plan to be ready for those."
Hello, Arvydas. How important is this Euroleague this season for you, especially after you spent almost two years without playing after you were so successful at Tau Ceramica?
Justas B - Lithuanian
"This is, for me, a really important year. After last year injured and the one before, in the NBA, I want to do well and help my team, because for me, the Euroleague is a strong and attractive competition that is very important. I practiced hard all summer for this. The injury is gone now, I have no pain and I forget all about it. I am just ready and want to play again, like any player. It's important for me this season, but it's important for every Euroleague player, too."
Hi, Macas! We are glad to see you back even stronger and ready to lead our team this year! As the most experienced player of Olympiacos on the Euroleague level, do you think that you can act as a mentor for the younger players, and help them to adapt quicker in this level? Best wishes for a great year!
Antonis and Spyros Athens, Greece
"I don't know, because I believe not easy for a player to be a teacher. Basketball is a team game, and everybody needs to be together and understand each other. It's the only way to win. One or two guys with more importance might be able to win a game or two playing well. But when it comes to winning championships, it always has to be the whole team. I try to practice hard and show a good image for the younger players, and do the best I can to lead by example."
Hello, Arvydas. As Lietuvos Rytas returns to Euroleague this year, what is your opinion concerning chances of your old club? What memories do you have of Lietuvos Rytas and is it possible you will be on their roster again someday? Good luck,
Vidmantas - Vilnius
"They have started the season very well, beating Maccabi at home after winning on the road in Italy. They are also playing well in the Lithuanian and Baltic leagues. I follow them as much as I can, see the stats and talk to friends there. Everyone is happy, and me, too. I think they have a great chance to go to the Top 16 or higher. We'll see. About my future, it's difficult to say. Just look at last year, when I didn't even play. No one knows where they will be later, but playing in front of home fans is always in a player's dreams."
Hi, Arvydas. We all missed you at Eurobasket 2007. How would you describe the feeling when you're off the court and you can't help your teammates? I hope you stay healthy in the future,
Klemen Kodrca, Ljubljana - Slovenia
"When you are playing and you see other guys get injured, you think you can identify with them, but now I know that you can't understand how hard it is to be outside the team. You think you understand, but the truth is you can't put yourself in an injured player's place. For me, lasy year was really, really hard, just to be without basketball and without my team. Physically, it wasn't difficult: it was an injury, an operation and rehabilitation. The mental part is toughest. But this is life, not only in basketball. You sometimes need to be strong and come back to do what you love to do."
Hi Arvydas. Do you meet Sarunas Jasikevicius in Athens, and if so, how do the supporters of the Reds and Greens react when they see you together? Good luck mighty shooter!
Antanas Segzda - Lithunaina
"This was a big subject a few days ago when we played against Panathinaikos in the Greek League. We talked, Saras and I, before the game, and it was a big story. Honestly, now that we have two games in a week, even though we live in the same city, it's a big one and we are almost too busy to see each other. We're very good friends, but we mostly talk on the phone, because it's not easy to go and hang out together. We don't want a lot of trouble, but we don't have much time either, with season started. Between practices, travel, games and video sessions, we're pretty busy all the time."
Hi, Arvydas. You were always known as "Kalashnikov", because you filled the baskets with unbelievable triples. Lately, however, lately you tend to use this weapon less
and collect you points differently. Why? Good luck,
Laimonas - Vilnius, Lithuania
"For sure, the defenses are better and better at trying to stop a single player. There's a lot more scouting now, and if a Euroleague team wants to stop one player, it usually can do that, but that's why the team game is so important. It also depends on the coach's system and other things. If I get the chance and I am open, I will shoot three-pointers, but I don't want to force things. If I get those shots, fine, I shoot. But if I am not in a great shooting position and my teammate has better position, he should shoot it."
Hi, Macas. What do you think it has to be done in order for Olympiacos to improve on defense?
Kostas - Athens, Greece
"We are still working on our defense, for sure. Our defense is not the best right now, and if we want to win titles, that's not easy without good team defense. But the season is just beginning and we have great players and a long bench with which to do this. And I believe we are going to get it done. It's just a question of work."
Hi, Arvydas. Although you were absent because of injury, are you happy about the third place for Lithuania in Eurobasket 2007? Are you looking forward to come back in national team for the 2008 Olympics? Good luck!
Laurynas - Kaunas, Lithuania
"For sure, I am happy. I watched all the games and talked with the guys on the phone. Third place for Lithuania is good. I believe ours was a very good team that could have been better, except that Saras was a little injured in the last couple games. But third is nice, the bronze is nice, and the team is going to the Olympics. As for me, sure I want to go, it is any player's dream. But this team did a good job getting to the Olympics without me and you never know, maybe the coach wants to stay with the same team. So it's not my decision. I just need to play this season first and see after what happens."