Euroleague.net interview: Marcus Goree, Benetton Treviso
March 19, 2007
Despite several significant achievements over the last year, they haven't been mentioned much among the Final Four contenders. This week, however, Benetton Treviso and star forward Marcus Goree have a chance to return to the Quarterfinal Playoffs in style. A road win by Benetton at Dynamo Moscow on Wednesday would end a one-season drought in which no Italian team made the playoffs. It would also complete a remarkable transition for a club of world renown that has gone through two years of change and challenges with great resilience. Goree has been the steady anchor on court throughout that process, and he brings calm experience as one of just two players left over from Benetton's 2004-05 playoff team. "I think some people forget that we have good players on this team," Goree told Euroleague.net. "And that's all it comes down to in the end; having good players playing and a good coach who puts them in good situations to make them win. That's all you need to succeed, really."
Hi Marcus. Would you have accepted a win-and-advance game on Wednesday at Dynamo if someone had offered you that possibility before the season?
"Any situation is good when you have a chance to win a game and advance to the next round of a competition as strong as the Euroleague, so I'd have to say yeah, I would have taken this opportunity if it was offered before the season."
You also defeated Dynamo by 19 points in the first game. What kind of confidence does that give you going into this game?
"It gives us a little bit of confidence, but we can't take too much from that first win. You know, we played at home in that game: the homecourt advantage came mean a lot, and this time we won't have it, plus we have to travel all the way to Moscow. We have to think of it as a whole different ballgame."
You guys were in this same position last season, but lost to Panathinaikos and their 18,000 friends. What from that experience can you take to Moscow this week?
"It's true that this is nothing new to us. In fact, this whole season as well as last we've been in tough situations. Having been through them before with the same guys means that you kind of know what to expect from each other. If we just play together like we know how to play together, I think we can win. It will be tough, but I think we can do it."
Benetton has flown a little under the radar this season, considering it's history and the fact that you guys are Italian League, Italian Cup and Italian SuperCup champs. Has this team been underestimated?
"Like I said, we've been through a lot this year as a team, with a lot of player movement and other things going on. But we're a group of guys who know how to play basketball. I think some people forget that we have good players on this team. And that's all it comes down to in the end; having good players playing and a good coach who puts them in good situations to make them win. That's all you need to succeed, really."
No Italian team reached the playoffs last year and Benetton has the last chance this year on Wednesday. Is there extra motivation to carry the flag of all Italian basketball into the next round?
"Yeah, for sure. It's a lot different now than a few years ago, but Italy still has good players and teams. It's just that now there are other countries getting good players, too, and that makes the competition better over a wider area. But we are the champs of Italy, and if we can, we want to show that Italy is still a place for good basketball teams and still an elite league."
You have been amazingly consistent throughout your Euroleague career, but this season you are actually doing more in less time on court. How have you raised your efficiency?
"By the time you get to be a veteran, you learn to take your time and be patient and just try to get through the season without injuries. Injuries, like I said, have been difficult for us this year. If as a player you can do that, stay healthy, and concentrate on your game, it makes everything easier."
In your third season at Benetton, a club that has so much history and is so well-regarded throughout the basketball world, have you found a home in Treviso?
"I found a home when I signed a two-year extension after my first season here. The truth is these are nice people, it's a nice community, and the team representation is among the best, so all that makes it easy to like it here."
Considering all the changes that Benetton has been through over the last two seasons, would making the playoffs be an accomplishment in itself and send your team into the next round with nothing to lose?
"It would be a good accomplishment, yeah. But we were there before two years ago, so the real goal is the Final Four. It will be good for us, however, after so many changes to show that we're still here and in competition to compete for the Final Four."
Of course, if you win on Wednesday, your quarterfinals opponent would be Panathinaikos. You would be happy to return there for a chance at revenge for last season?
"Not exactly. Because the Final Four is at their place anyway, they have a lot of motivation and determination to make it there and so will be one of the toughest teams to beat. But to go there and play against would be a great situation for us. We will do what we can do."