Angelo Gigli: "I like everything about the Suns"
You were born in Durban, South Africa. How was that? What were your parents doing there?
Angelo Gigli: My father was working in Africa at the time. He worked in Uganda and in Zambia and then in South Africa. But I'm Italian. I just happened to born there, but I'm Italian. I only lived two years there.
Did you start playing basketball early?
AG: I started playing when I was 11. I had to stop for a while because I had a problem in my back, but the problem disappeared and I returned to play basketball. Until I was 18, I played in Rome and then I moved to Reggio Emilia, where I am now. I played for the lower divisions teams there and I started playing for the first division team this year.
When did you start taking it seriously?
AG: Probably when I was 17. I was playing with the lower division team of Rome and I was doing good. So I started to think, "Hey, maybe this could be... my job!"
Not many people knew about you before this season. Is it because you improved a lot this year or was it just that people were not paying attention?
AG: I guess when you play in the second division you cannot expect to get much attention. But last summer, they told me that I was going to play with the senior team and that I was going to start. So I thought that was a great opportunity, a great shot for me. So I worked very hard in the summer to increase my strength and my skills. And it went well, because the first game of the season... I played a great game. That's when people started to say, "this guy is very good" (laughs). So I started getting attention then.
You have been working with Detlef Schrempf lately, right?
AG: I've spoken with him a little bit, but I have not started working with him yet. I'll probably start working with him next week. But so far, we've just talked a little bit. It's great because I used to watch him in the NBA and he was a star.
You've said you'd like to play for the Phoenix Suns. Any reason in particular?
AG: Because of the coach, Mike D'Antoni. I like the coach and I like the way they play. They don't play with the typical big man. They play fast. And I love the city. I like everything about them.
So you would you feel more comfortable with a team that plays uptempo game.
AG: Yeah. Because of my characteristics as a player. I'm not like other big men. I'm not strong enough to play with other big men in the paint. But I'm quick, so it's better for me to play that way.
So what happens if a team like the Indiana Pacers selects you in the draft?
AG: I like the type of basketball the Suns play, but I would do anything the coach asks me. Maybe in Phoenix is better for me because there I could play more like a small forward instead of power forward. It would be better for me because I'm quick and I'm not so strong to play as a big man, to play against other big men in the paint. But I would do whatever the team that selects me asks me to do.
You were quoted as saying you were physically destroyed at the end of the season. Why was that?
AG: I had some problems in my neck, but I had to play. They told me they needed me to play, so I kept playing even though I was not in the best conditions. You just have to keep playing. But I had to play a game every two or three days, so it was hard.
You know the NBA season has 82 games. Do you think you will be ready to play so many games?
AG: This is something that causes problems to all European players, I think. I can have a problem with that, but I guess every player has a problem with that. Maybe it's hard at the beginning, but after the first year I would be good doing that. A lot of players do it, so why not me? I was already playing games every two or three days in Italy sometimes, anyway.
What's your preference for next season: playing in the NBA, returning to your team or signing with a club that plays in the Euroleague?
AG: I don't know about that. It depends on the team that selects me. If they tell me to go back to Europe and work on my game for two years, I would do that. If they tell me they want me to join the team immediately, I would do that.
Whatever the team says, you're OK with that.
AG: Yeah. If they think I'm ready, I think I'm ready. So it they tell me to go next season, I would go.
Do you think you could contribute in the NBA next season like other international players – Anderson Varejao, for example – did this season?
AG: I think I can. It depends on the place, anyway. You have to get lucky. You have to find a coach and a team that believes in you. But if they gave me a chance, I think I would be ready. I'd say I could make a contribution.
Final question... Which NBA player would you compare yourself to? Some people say Andrei Kirilenko.
AG: Yes, Andrei Kirilenko. I think that's good. And Dirk Nowitzki. That's the most complete player I've ever seen. But I like Kirilenko too, because he does a lot of things although he's not as powerful as Nowitzki.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com