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Fan Mail: Fran Vazquez, Regal FC Barcelona
April 27, 2009
Fran Vazquez is without a doubt one of the most improved players in the Euroleague this season and a main reason that his club, Regal FC Barcelona, is back in the Final Four for the first time since 2006. Many say that Barcelona has the most athletic frontcourt in the competition and Vazquez is central to that claim. He has intimidated all comers this season with his shot-blocking skills, swatting away at least one shot in his last 14 Euroleague games and leading the entire competition with 1.8 per game. His 38 blocks are not only the sixth-most in one season by a Euroleague player all season, but moved him up to fourth overall among the best blockers since 2000. Vazquez is getting ready for his Final Four debut and does not want to think about anything else aside from the semifinal game against CSKA Moscow, as he says in this Final Four edition of Euroleague Fan Mail, where he answered questions from dozens of fans around the continent. More than anything else, Vazquez spoke about the significance of going to Berlin. "This Final Four is very important for me. It is my first Final Four and I am excited about it and hoping to do the best I can," he said. "Let's hope we enjoy the weekend and come back home with the trophy."
Hola, Fran. My question is about blocking shots, at which you are the best in Europe! How do you train in that particular aspect of your game? Is it something natural? Good luck!
Marcos Cueva - Zaragoza, Spain
"Thanks a lot. Let's hope we have good luck. You cannot practice how to block shots, It's something natural. You need a lot of instinct and timing and to know exactly when your opponent is facing you that you have to jump high and block the shot. I don't think you can practice that. Of course, luck is a factor sometimes, as well as being in the right place at the right time."
Hello Fran! This is your first Final Four. How excited are you? We miss you in Unicaja! Good luck in Berlin!
Fran Hernandez - Malaga, Spain
"It is true, this Final Four is very important for me. It is my first Final Four and I am excited about it and hoping to do the best I can. I spoke to some players from Unicaja about their experience two years ago and everybody says it was great. Let's hope we enjoy the weekend and come back home with the trophy."
Dear Mr. Vazquez. My question is about Ersan Ilyasova, the only Turkish player in the Final Four. You seem to play alongside each other very well. How is your relationship with Ersan, on and off the court? Thanks!
Yesim Yildizoglu - Istanbul, Turkey
"Truth to be told, both of us underwent some not-so-good moments last season and came back strong together. We managed to fight as much as we can and play together really well. Ersan is a great guy off the court, a fun, nice person. That is always good for the team. Barcelona is full of great guys that get along really well and that always helps to be successful."
Hello Fran! I am a big fan of yours and I will be in Berlin for the Final Four! What would it mean to win the Euroleague title? I Hope I can get to say hello at some point in Berlin!
Josep Pinilla - Barcelona, Spain
"If we win the title, it would be a magic moment in my career and the most important title for me so far. I won two Spanish King's Cup titles, which are important here in Spain. Of course, winning a Euroleague title is more exciting and prestigious. It is something that you can be proud of: playing a Final Four and being the best in Europe."
Dear Fran! My question is very simple: Do you prefer Panathinaikos or Olympiacos in the final? What do you expect from the big Greek semifinal? Good luck unless you face Panathinaikos!
Giorgos Dounias - Athens, Greece
"All four teams are confident enough to win the title. To be honest, I don't have a preference between Panathinaikos or Olympiacos. If we make it to the final, no matter who the opponent is, we have to play hard and give our maximum. We played against Panathinaikos twice this season and won both games, but that doesn't mean that we would beat them in Berlin. So far we have to play against CSKA and then we will see."
Hello Fran! I have noticed that you bump your chest twice after each dunk. Is it superstition or is it dedicated to somebody? All the best luck in Berlin, I will be supporting you from home, Forza Barça!
Carles Menendez - Barcelona, Spain
"It is dedicated to my wife. She has been by my side in all the good and bad moments. It is a matter of pride for me to dedicate to her every dunk that I make. That symbolizes the feelings I have for her, which helps me to get better every day."
Mr. Vazquez, you have played all over in Spain, in four different clubs. Would you like to someday play for some other good European teams, like CSKA, Panathinaikos, Olympiacos or Maccabi? Thanks and best of luck in the Final Four!
Vasiliy Belanov - Moscow, Russia
"So far, I am very happy here in Barcelona. I don't think much about my future. I felt comfortable with all four teams that I played for and I have been here for several years already and feel great at this great club. I hope to stay here in Barcelona in the future, or at least in Spain."
Dear Fran, I am a young center from Belgium and trying to improve my outside shot. I saw you improved a lot in the last two years and you can hit jumpers from anywhere now. What was the secret? Thanks!
Wim Van den Heuvel - Leuven, Belgium
"There is no way other than practicing hard. First of all, you have to find a distance in which you can hit shots regularly, in which you feel comfortable. Little by little, day by day, you have to practice from different distances and different positions. Patience and hard work is the only way to improve."
Dear Fran, what will you and the other Barcelona big men, Andersen, Santiago and Ilyasova, do in the semifinal to stop Smodis, Morris, Lorbek and Khryapa of CSKA?
Dani Muñoz - Teruel, Spain
"We have to play the way we have all season. We have to play hard defense and our regular game. If we manage to stay focused and read the game well, keeping our feet on the ground, we can compete against the best in Europe. We know it will be a very complicated mission, but we have to give our best this week and be ready for the challenge."
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Regal FC Barcelona
NIKE International Junior Tournament
SEMIFINALS, May 1:
3RD PLACE, May 3:
FINAL, May 3:
FINAL FOUR TEAMS
REGAL FC BARCELONA
2008-09 ALL-EL TEAM, MVP
FINAL FOUR SLIDE SHOW