Euroleague.net interview: Marc-Antoine Pellin, Chorale Roanne
December 11, 2007
The first thing people notice when Marc-Antoine Pellin of Chorale Roanne takes the court for an opening tipoff is his size. At 1.69 meters, Pellin is one of the shortest players ever seen in a Euroleague uniform. But if an opponent lingers too long on that first impression, he's in trouble. Halfway through Pellin's first season, he already leads the Euroleague in assists with 5.6 per game, having dished 13 last week alone - one short of the existing single-game record - in a victory over Lottomatica Roma. What's most remarkable, however, is not Pellin's stature or passing savvy, but rather his age. He turned 20 shortly in preseason after having already directed Roanne to two domestic trophies last season as a teenage starter. One of the youngest point guards to ever run a Euroleague team fulltime, Pellin says that only in recent games is he starting to feel comfortable in the competition, after a learning process that has led to more confidence. "Every day I'm trying to learn more by watching games on TV as well as by playing games," Pellin told Euroleague.net. "Every time I make a mistake on the court, I spend time thinking about what I am going to do in order to avoid the same mistake in the future."
Marc-Antoine, halfway through the regular season, you rank first in assists after having 13 - close to a Euroleague record - last week against Lottomatica Roma. Does your big success in your first Euroleague season surprise you a little bit?
"No, I'm not surprised. I was a bit scared of the Euroleague when the season started, but since three games ago, I am feeling good. I'm comfortable now and just trying to do the best in order to help my team."
With two victories and the second half ready to start, how do you and your teammates feel about Roanne's chances to still reach the Top 16?
"I think that the team is feeling better now after winning against Roma last week. Everybody knows his job on the court, so I think that we can get back in race for the Top 16. But it will be difficult."
How important are the next two games, against Brose at home and on the road at Partizan?
"These two games will be very important for us because I think that we can really beat these teams. These games should be easier to play than the one against Panatinaikos at home."
Two months before the season started, you were still 19 years old. How did you learn to handle so much responsibility as a point guard while still so young?
"I have learned a lot on the court and every day I'm trying to learn more by watching games on TV as well as by playing games. Every time I make a mistake on the court, I spend time thinking about what I am going to do in order to avoid the same mistake in the future."
Also, being a teenager and winning the French League and Semaine des As last year is very unusual. In you first season as a starter, how did you know you were ready to direct the team?
"Yes, it was my first season as a starter, but I knew I was ready because I had worked throughout the previous year to reach that goal. So I was prepared when the opportunity came to me."
How much does your size help you on a basketball court?
"My size helps me because players are not used to playing against a small opponent too often. And with my size, it's easy to squeeze between the other players on the court and find spaces that maybe others cannot."
Do other teams or players sometimes underestimate you because of your size?
"I think that my opponents do underestimate me sometimes because of my size and my age, but my teammates don't underestimate me because they know how I can play and that helps when we get on the court."
You went to school at INSEP near Paris, a place that is famous for training basketball players. How was the experience there for you?
"Yes it was a good experience, because I played with the best French players of my generation and I learned to play more aggressively. I was at INSEP for two years, and with me there were with players like Johan Petro, Yannick Bokolo, Souarata Cisse and Aldo Curtis."
Roanne has gotten better each year you have been there, until winning the French League and qualifying for the Euroleague. Can such a small-town club can make an impact on European basketball, too?
"I don't know what impact it will have in Europe but if Roanne can make its name known this year and in the future, I'll be proud of what we have been able to accomplish."