Andrea Bargnani: "I feel no pressure"
Andrea Bargnani: Things are going to get better. I had a bad moment after the beginning of the season because of some injuries. Now I have recovered really well and I try to do my best in practice to gain the trust of my coach. In the last games, I got some chances to play and stay on the court and this was really important to improve my skills.
Your coach Ettore Messina is said to be pretty good with young players. How much of a role has a coach like him played in your development?
AB: Great importance in the daily work. He is really careful with us and during practices his suggestions play a key role for our growth. I think that being coached by a man with such experience is the most important thing in my career right now, since I can see my mistakes and learn more on the court day by day.
What parts of your game has he told you to work on the most?
AB: Taking that I don't consider myself a complete player right now, I have to improve on both the sides of the court. Now I am working hard and focusing on defense, where I currently pay so much in Europe. I try to make it step by step.
You played against the Raptors last year with Benetton. How was the experience?
AB: It was a good chance for us to get in touch with a different way to conceive basketball – from organization to players, defense, offensive skills... You cannot expect to understand everything about the NBA playing one only game there, but it was really interesting for all of us. For me in particular it was a good time. I played, stayed on the floor. And most of all... I got an autograph from Vince Carter!
Did you feel like you could compete with those NBA guys?
AB: I don't want to think about NBA guys right now. I have no time to focus on that! My only plan is for today, to improve and learn as much as possible about basketball.
There a lot of expectations in Italy about you – along with Angelo Gigli, Marco Belinelli and Stefano Mancinelli – possibly going to the NBA in the near future. Do you think those expectations are realistic?
AB: I am not the man who has to make these kind of appreciations. I can only say that there are many good youngsters in Italy at the moment.
Do you feel any special pressure because of those expectations?
AB: Not right now. I don't think about pressure or expectations.
Which do you think is your natural position? Can you see yourself playing small forward consistently in the future?
AB: I'm growing up now, so I try to exploit my age to play deep in the game both as a small forward and a power forward. Now I am following the advice of my coach and doing what the team needs from me on the court.
What do you think about the comparisons with Dirk Nowitzki?
AB: I am really honored about it, but he is playing in the NBA and he is a star there. Meanwhile, I am so young... I only want to focus on myself and my growth.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com. Enrico Castorina, Benetton's media officer, helped conduct the interview
Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com