Credit: Zuma Press – Scanpix
Credit Zuma Press – Scanpix

FC Barcelona kick off their Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season with a home game against ALBA Berlin on Friday. Barca's head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius shared his excitement before tomorrow's tip-off.

Pierre Oriola

Pierre  Oriola
Team: FC Barcelona
Position: PF, C
Age: 29
Height: 206 cm
Weight: 107 kg
Birth place: Barcelona, Spain

"We are fortunate that Barca has a lot of history in this competition, the most prestigious one in Europe, which everyone sees, and we are excited," he said at a press conference. "The first game at home and the first one away are special, it's true. You have to control your emotions, improve and grow."

This off-season, Barcelona brought in four new players: Nicolas Laprovittola, Rokas Jokubaitis, Nigel Hayes-Davis, and Sertac Sanli. Jasikevicius said that they are still working on fully incorporating them into the squad.

"I understand we have some new guys in the team. We started the ACB League pretty well. Now it's time to begin again from zero. New competition, same demand".

Talking about their first EuroLeague opponent, ALBA Berlin, Saras mentioned that the team's game plan remained the same even though their coach changed.

"ALBA more or less follow the philosophy of Aito Garcia Reneses with the new coach. They play fast and attractive and try to run at all times: after an opponent's basket or rebound. They have a lot of people who can do it well, and it's always a difficult opponent, so we have to be very focused."

"They have some injured players, but I think they will play their brand of basketball. They know very well how they have to play, and they continue to be Aito's ALBA. We will see how it changes to throughout the season," Jasikevicius added.

One of the newcomers in Berlin is Tamir Blatt, back from Jerusalem after being on loan. And Jasikevicius knows him well. 

"I have known Tamir since he was 4 years old. His basketball style is fun, with a lot of assists. Now he has to adapt to the EuroLeague physicality and speed level. I've seen him growing up, he has basketball in his veins", explained FC Barcelona coach. 

Finally, when he was asked about the trademark signings, Jasikevicius was incapable of choosing just one. 

"There are always interesting moves during the summer. I'd say Shved coming back to CSKA, James going to Monaco. Mike will have an explosive season there. Let's see how everyone adapts in their teams, it is too early", he concluded. 

Barcelona's captain Pierre Oriola talked about how the EuroLeague is a highly competitive tournament, but that's what makes it fun.

"We know the difficulty of winning the EuroLeague, of being at the top and playing against the best in Europe.

We haven't won it for many years, but we hope to raise the trophy this time. The teams are getting stronger and stronger. That is why it is so special and tough and beautiful to see," Oriola said.

"This is a very long tournament, and there are many months to go. Each game is like a final. Losing two games means dropping from the top of the standings. But there are no excuses. We have a team trained to endure so many games and weeks of demand," he concluded.

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