Euroleague.net interview: Rudy Fernandez
September 11, 2006
|Every new Euroleague Basketball season brings the promise of seeing great new talents for the first time. One of those newcomers who is sure to thrill fans is Rudy Fernandez of DKV Joventut, who arrives to the Euroleague with a gold medal around his neck after helping Spain with the recent World Championships. An electric swingman still just 21 years old, Fernandez is among many stars-in-the-making who will get the opportunity to shine for fans across Europe this season. As Fernandez says in this Euroleague.net interview, his new opportunity is another dream come true. "One of my biggest dreams is to play such a big competition as the Euroleague with Joventut, and to help my team compete against the best teams in Europe," Fernandez told Euroleague.net. "We just have to enjoy ourselves and do the best we can."
First of all, welcome to the Euroleague. Tell us, do you still have the net from Japan around your neck? How long did you wear it after the World Championship final?
"Yes, I still have it and I am going to keep it. Right now I have it in my room and this is where it is staying."
You are a world champion at 21 years old. It must be a little hard to believe. Is that why you kept the net around your neck, as proof?
"Well, it certainly proves it. It was an incredible tournament for us, we managed to become the world champions and make history in our sport. This is something I could never imagine to achieve at age 21. I have some days off now and I am trying to take in all that has happened and is happening. I am looking forward to get back to Badalona and facing the new season, which is very important for all of us."
Spain, Greece, United States and Argentina all arrived undefeated to the semifinals, something unprecedented. Have you thought of the possibility that Spain won maybe the best national-level basketball tournament ever played?
"I think we did a great job, and we showed it by beating really strong, tough teams in our way to winning the title. As this have been one of the best tournaments ever, we have been very competitive with great players and great teams, but I think Spain has been above everyone else."
What did the tournament in general say about the quality of European basketball now?
"I think it is rising, on its way up. We are showing that European basketball is now at a very good level, and that is clear when two European teams made it to the World Championships final. I really think there are a lot of good players here and this is good for basketball, because it will keep on growing all around Europe."
You proved that the European game has room for showtime, too. Do you consider yourself an entertainer or is an alley-oop dunk simply the highest percentage shot sometimes?
"Well, I have the luck to be able to make this play and it is the kind of play that I love. It is always better to dunk it rather than scoring in penetration. I always say that I try to give my best, and that sometimes involves scoring the easiest way."
Now you bring your game and your team, DKV Joventut, to the Euroleague for the first time. What are your thoughts on debuting in this competition?
"Every time I have been asked, I have told everybody that one of my biggest dreams is to play such a big competition as the Euroleague with Joventut, and to help my team compete against the best teams in Europe."
Does the Euroleague experience of players like Elmer Bennett, Andrew Betts and Lubos Barton, not to mention coach Aito Garcia Reneses, give Joventut extra confidence?
"Yes, I think so, especially since we are a team that has not played in the Euroleague for many years. We have to be able to compete from day one. Joventut has improved its level year after year until reaching this point again, so we think we are ready and hope to do really well this season."
The Euroleague draw is coming in a few days. As a young European, is there any arena, city or other team you will be hoping to see this season for the first time?
"Actually, there are many teams and arenas I would like to face and to see. To be honest, though, I just hope we have a good draw and get the easiest group possible so that we stay in the competition as long as we can."
The draw will give you a first idea of which teams Joventut has to face. What will be the key for your team to compete with the best teams from the rest of Europe?
"I believe that we have to keep both feet on the ground, just like always. We have to go out there and give our maximum and we know it will not be easy because there are a lot of good teams. We just have to enjoy ourselves and do the best we can."