Many former Baskonia players are coming back to Vitoria-Gasteiz to experience the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in their former city. One of them is Andres "Chapu" Nocioni, who had a very busy Wednesday. He started by visiting his former Real Madrid teammates before their final practice in the Spanish capital prior to traveling themselves to the Final Four. Nocioni led Real to the 2015 EuroLeague title, earning Final Four MVP honors, and retired from basketball a year later. He has been following Real at a distance from his native Argentina, staying in touch with his former teammates, and his quick visit on the way to Vitoria-Gasteiz was a surprise for them.
"I came to say hello and wish them luck before the Final Four. It is a team with great possibilities. It has a core of players who have worked together for many years, and that is a plus. I wish them the best of luck," he said. "Being the reigning champion generates pressure, and that may be their biggest problem, in terms of pressure. But Real Madrid is used to these situations, especially this team, and they will handle that well."
By Wednesday afternoon, Nocioni had traveled to Vitoria-Gasteiz to sign copies of his authorized autobiography, "El Chapu: Memories of a Warrior," at a cafe in the city center. Written by veteran Argentine journalist Fabian Garcia, Nocioni's book goes over his whole career, including his years in the EuroLeague with Baskonia and Real. "Fabian came up with the idea, but I didn't pay too much attention in the beginning. I didn't think it was a good idea - I thought my own story was not so important to write a book about it," Nocioni said. "But Fabian insisted, telling me it would be a nice way to tell the story of the Argentine golden generation. We did it and, in the end, I don't regret it."
After living in Vitoria-Gasteiz for so many years, Nocioni is excited to have the Final Four in the city.
"I would have liked it even more if Baskonia was in the Final Four, but it just didn't happen. Still, I am really proud of having been part of this team and this organization. It is a great achievement for the club to bring the Final Four to Vitoria-Gasteiz. The Final Four is played in big, important cities, so that puts Vitoria at that level," Nocioni said.
"It is a great city to walk around and enjoy, with a lot of fresh air. It has been the European Green Capital in the past. It has a lot to offer and there are a lot of things to do. I had a great time here with my family. The food is great, there are many good restaurants and bars. Basketball fans like all of these things, so I am sure everybody will have a good time."