Ah, open interview day! BiE just got back from the open 15 minutes granted media by the Euroleague with the players of each team. The boys from FC Barcelona and CSKA Moscow – particularly the outstanding Pops Mensah-Bonsu; more on this momentarily – generously gave of some time after practice to take questions from eager media members ranging from Eurosport television to … well, to BallinEurope.
Spanish-language media was well represented at the event – hey, why not? Espana’s dominating every other aspect of European basketball this summer – and perhaps due to this (plus a lotta hype), the topic of conversation no matter who was at the mic ultimately always turned to Ricky Rubio. Ricky himself managed to show up to the practice floor just in time to exchange helloes with Pops before getting down to the business of basketball.
A typical exchange featured Ramunas Siskauskas and went something like the following.
BiE: Do you know how to play FC Barcelona?
Siskauskas: Well … we know what to do. We know what we will do.
Anonymous journalist #1: What about Ricky?
Siskauskas: He’s a very good player, a good passer … but this game is not only about him, but very many other good players, too.
Anonymous journalist #2: FCB is deeper and faster than last year. What can you do about it?
Siskauskas: Yeah, they got Ricky and [Pete] Mickael…
You get the idea.
Luckily, the laidback Terence Morris managed to be spared any questioning on The Human YouTube Clip, for he was earning all the attention of she who is definitely the blog find of this year’s Euroleague Final Four: The Taiwanese “basketball girl” at A Basketball Dream. On her outstanding tour to see 25 games in eight countries in Europe, the basketball girl managed to corner Morris after he answered a few typical questions in Terencian style. To wit:
Journalist: Does the addition of Matjaz Smodis to CSKA change anything for you?
Morris: Naw, I’m just gonna play my game.
Journalist: So you’re not too worried about the semifinal?
Enthusiastically then did Taiwanese girl (hey, that’s what it says on the ‘site) inform Morris that she’d be making a prediction soon, but couldn’t reveal it despite Terence’s cajoling. She might have totally won him over if she hadn’t proclaimed herself a Duke University fan…
“Oh, come on!” said Morris. Busted us up.
Finally, there was Pops. Mensah-Bonsu stayed after his teammates had left and was just being spirited away by Eurosport as the media was being unceremoniously ejected to clear the space for Barça.
On playing in the Final Four this year, Mensah-Bonsu proclaimed emphatically that “I’m excited. This is the biggest moment of my career.”
Then came the key question: “Do you know how to beat Barcelona.”
“We gotta score more points,” retorted Pops, before more seriously addressing the issue by citing the ever-popular control of tempo: clearly a must against the runners-and-gunners from Spain.
Journalist: So what’s your opinion on Rubio?
Pops: Ricky Rubio will be an important player on any team he plays for. His skills and maturity are outstanding.
Journalist: Does Barcelona have any weaknesses?
Pops: I’m sure every team has weaknesses, but they are the best team in Europe. … But the good thing and the bad thing about [the Euroleague Final Four] is that it’s one game.
Journalist: Who do you fear?
Pops: Nobody. I respect a lot of people, but I never fear. I only fear God.”
And on that distinctly non-Rubio note (or was it after all…?), BiE looks forward to the next 15 minutes of hobnobbing with the famous.