Mickael Pietrus: "I want to be a Warrior for as long as possible"
You’ve played your first three group games against arguably the three best teams in your group. How do you feel about your performance?
Mickael Pietrus: I think we’ve done very well. Obviously it was a tough game against Argentina. But we’ve been able to play well against Serbia-Montenegro and Nigeria. Our approach is that regardless of the opponent, we need to go out there and give the best effort possible. I feel we’ve done that so far and we intend to keep it going that way. We would like to finish in second place in this group and be ready for the knockout stages.
You finish the group stages by playing Lebanon today (Wednesday) and Venezuela tomorrow (Thursday). Some say you will definitely win both. Are you that confident or are you cautious all the same?
MP: Well, these are teams that can cause upsets. We have to be cautious because this is the type of tournament where there can be surprises like when Nigeria beat Serbia-Montenegro in the first game. We don’t know too much about these teams so our goal is to stay focused on our own game, play at a high level and be efficient at both ends of the court. Both games are very important and we won’t take them lightly.
It has to be encouraging to push Argentina to the edge without Tony Parker. Everyone thought that this game was decided before it was played when he pulled out with an injury. And yet you were close until the last few minutes.
MP: Looking back on it now a few days later it’s encouraging, but on the day it was very hard because they had all of their players and we were missing Tony. He is one of our leaders and best creators offensively but we have to play without him and to the best of our ability. We have to keep working hard.
Your shot hasn’t been falling that much in the first three games. Does it affect you or do you just keep shooting?
MP: It doesn’t bother me. As a shooter I know that I’m going to have highs and lows, it comes with the role. So I just keep working hard, take a lot of shots in practice and hope that they start falling in game situations.
Let’s talk a bit about you and the Golden State Warriors. Looking back on last season, do you feel that maybe you underachieved personally?
MP: No, I wouldn’t say that. I’m not too disappointed with the way I played because as a player coming off the bench you don’t really know how much playing time you’re going to get night in and night out, but I just try to be ready every time.
How about as a team? With Baron Davis in his first full season with the Warriors there was great promise and talk of making the playoffs but you missed out. Was that disappointing?
MP: Yeah, that was disappointing because we lost the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. We let it slip away but we’ll do everything we can next season to get to the postseason and we know the fans are behind us and they know we can make it. I’m going to do everything I can to help this team reach that goal and when we make the playoffs, it’s going to feel like we just won an NBA championship. It will be great for me personally, for my teammates who’ve been around for quite a while, for the franchise and, of course, for our great fans.
And for you, this upcoming season is important because of your contract situation.
MP: I don’t think too much about that. I want to be a Warrior for as long as possible. Hopefully I can stay with them for the next six or seven years. My goal is to help them achieve great things and be the best team possible because we have some great fans who deserve to see us do well for them.
What can we expect from France in these World Championships?
MP: Well, we definitely will give our best efforts in every game as we have done so far. The results have been encouraging until now and we have high hopes to go deep into this tournament.
How about Team USA? What do you think about them?
MP: Well they’ve put together a great team with some great players LeBron (James), Dwyane (Wade), Carmelo (Anthony) and the rest of them. They’ve done well up to this point in the tournament and I don’t see anyone stopping them from going all the way to win this championship.
Do you think they can beat a team like Argentina?
MP: Yeah, they have enough talent to hold them off and every other team.
And how about France? What are you aiming for?
MP: We’re just taking it one game at a time. We want to win every game that we play but there’s no point in getting carried away and thinking too far ahead.
Simon Wilkinson writes for FIBA.com and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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