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Interview: David Andersen, Regal FC Barcelona
By reaching the 2009 Final Four in Berlin, he has already set one distinctive record, becoming the first player to make the event with four different teams. Now, David Andersen of Regal FC Barcelona will try what no other player in 51 years of European club competition history has done before: win the continental title with three different teams. Andersen took his first crown in 2001 with Kinder Bologna and his next two in 2006 and 2008 with CSKA Moscow. A fourth title title will also put him in select company with only 10 people who have previously won more than three. Still just 28, Andersen might expect more chances in his career, but having made it this far from his native Australia without every expecting as much, he knows from experience not to let any opportunity go by. "If anyone told me when I was 15 or 16 that I would play one day in Italy, let alone go to Russia and then Spain and play at such a high level, I'd have laughed at them, " Andersen told Euroleague.net. " I've had a very interesting ride. Now, hopefully, we can bring back some hardware to this club and keep everyone in Barcelona happy."
Hello, David. You have just become the first player to reach the Final Four with four different teams. How does it feel to achieve such an impressive milestone?
"Someone had mentioned it to me. Other players, guys that I had been calling around Europe were saying it would be a record if I made the Final Four. It's a great thing. I'm happy about it. For sure I never thought as a young kid coming out of Australia all the way to Europe that anything like this would ever happen. So for me it's a great thing."
How much has Australia come around to understanding all that you have accomplished in the Euroleague?
"It's still the basketball people who understand. Obviously the people close to me as well, family and friends and so on. But the general public in Australia still can't grasp the importance, the energy and the fun of the Euroleague games and the Final Four. I think if they could see it first-hand, they'd say 'Wow'. But unfortunately, they can't do that."
Well, let's not forget you have a second country behind you, Denmark. Is it true you actually work out there some summers?
"Sure, I go up there to see family and friends. I was there a couple years back, working out in Aalborg with one of the local teams, shooting and stuff. Nothing serious. I also met up with one of the basketball directors in Copenhagen. He knows my Auntie Rita, who translates and they talk and give me publicity there. And of course, my family there watches the games. It's only my father's side of the family, but he's one of 12 children, plus there are Andersens all over the place, so it adds up to a lot of people."
Except for injury once, you've played in the last six Final Fours, making you the most experienced Barcelona player at the event. Which kind of advice are you giving to your teammates?
"I think that going in you can't get caught up in all the hype and the show. You have to go with concentration to play the game and think of it first. But you have to think of it as just another game. A lot of us veterans have played a lot of high-pressure games, and you can't think of how important it is. You need to go out, do what you do well and help your teammates do their best to perform well on that day. You have to bring your best game and be on your best form for two days. You need to work hard before, don't leave anything to chance and put it all out there on the floor."
Based on your experience, was there any point this season when you knew this team was ready for the Final Four and a shot at the title?
"I knew all along we had a lot of talent and a good group of guys getting along well. We had a couple really big wins against powerhouse teams like Panathinaikos and Siena. So there was always a belief along the way. Sometimes we lost big games and started doubt, but the strength on this team is that everyone chips in and steps up at the right time. We've done well to be here, but hopefully we're coming into our rhythm lately, we can build on it and be in the right moment when we face CSKA."
Speaking of CSKA, how much of an advantage is it for you to know them so well - or them to know you?
"It's not a big advantage or disadvantage. We know each other's styles, but everyone scouts everyone so much now, there are no big secrets going around. Obviously, going into a big game, we need to understand what they are capable of. But with two premier teams in a big game, it's going to be a battle, and it's going to be fun to play against them. I look at it as a good opportunity to play them. It's the kind of game you live for. It'll be special and good to see old friends around the hotel. But once we get on the floor, we'll all be in game mode and trying hard to get the win."
You will battle in the frontcourt with former teammates like Matjaz Smodis and Viktor Khryapa. How important will the matchups in the paint be?
"They are two good frontlines, very big and with a lot of talent. It's going to be a battle under the baskets, but hopefully we'll have a slight advantage posting up. We'll see what happens. It's great players against great players, so it's a matter of coming out and taking the advantage for our team. I think we did a good job all year, worked hard on rebounding and we have good balance, with some guys better in the post, some shooting deeper. We have variety, so it'll be interesting to see how we match up with them."
Barcelona played the only five-game playoff series and has three domestic games in 11 days before the semis: good or bad?"
"I think it's a good thing for us. Playing against Tau, first in the playoff, now in the Spanish League, along with a couple more teams, is a good way to keep our rhythm. The are tough games, tough battles, and that way we won't lose our shape. We'll be match-fit and ready for Berlin, so yeah I think it can work to our advantage. After a few days, our bodies will be rested and we'll be going into the Final Four in the right way."
Barcelona is having its best Euroleague season in many years under a rookie head coach. How has coach Xavi Pascual managed to do so well?
"He gives a lot of confidence to the players and lets us play our style. We understand our roles and stuff, and he's great on technique. He just keeps things moving up a bit. There was a learning curve for everyone in the team, learning to do different things. But we work well together and I hope to keep it going in the future. We got through some tough games together, which was good for everyone involved, and we learned to cope. Everyone did a good job, and his is not easy, with so many talented players and having to distribute minutes. He's done a really good job and it's been an interesting ride for all of us. Hopefully, it will keep going."
You can become the first player ever to win the Euroleague with three different teams. What would you have thought if someone told you that years ago in Australia?
"Well , if anyone told me when I was 15 or 16 that I would play one day in Italy, let alone go to Russia and then Spain and play at such a high level, I'd have laughed at them, I think. I am happy to have the opportunities I have had and lucky to have been with the players and coaches who were with me. It's a great thing and I've had a very interesting ride. Now, hopefully, we can bring back some hardware to this club and keep everyone in Barcelona happy."
Friday, April 24, 2009
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