He returns to the same place where last year he really came into his own, at an electric Real Madrid. He does it to begin to assemble the pieces of his team. The foundations are already there, but there's always things to be perfected. Pablo Laso, together with his team, has already settled in at Valle de las Cañas. Before a pre-season that will give way to a long season, full of challenges and, we hope, satisfaction. Under his leadership, there are the names from last season, as well as three new ones. In his head is his only obsession and part of his philosophy: "The important thing is the group. "Our strength lies in the team".
Back to work. How do you envisage the pre-season?
Although we're beginning this week a bit below the minimum, it's true we're going to be able to work a bit more this pre-season than in other years. The fact that the JJ OO have finished quickly and there are five players who have joined means we can take advantage of these first few days to include the new players; so that those who have been away with the national team re-join us bit by bit. We'll also work with some young guy who will help us at the beginning... Therefore, the first contact this week will be that; then next week it's full steam ahead to get going with more specific things.
Two new players have joined, who will bring with them very different things. What specific things did you look for in them?
In Draper's case, we like having the feeling that we can look for another rotation in the point guard position. He also plays the pick n roll well, difficult to defend the defence; it's possible to connect the two Sergios well, he's a good passer. He can help us with the pace of play which we have. In Marcus' case, he's a very athletic player who can play with any one of our internal players. He can play in a team of 4 or 5; he can defend on the inside or outside, he's fast... He's versatile. It's very good for us to be able to underpin the team, which in the end is our strength, the team. They are two players who I believe are going to fit in well with the group and who, over a long season like this one, are going to help us a lot.
Let's talk about Rudy...
Well, Rudy is being spoken about very little because he's already been with us for a little while before. But there's no doubt that his arrival is important, he's a very quick player; last time he really adapted himself well to the group. When he gets here on Tuesday nobody will be new to him. He's a great signing for us, although perhaps because he's already been with us it doesn't seem that way, but he's very important in the short and long term.
In signing, the team's style of play has been taken into account, and that they adapt to the what was built up last year.
When you think about a style of play, from a point of view of work, you have to be clear what they can contribute as players. I think they have identified themselves with that style, with the fact that we wanted to bring them to the team, and they know what we want of them and they think about what they can bring to the group. I speak on the premise that at the beginning of the season we only talk about the fact that new players are coming and for me the most important thing is the group.
The core of the group is the same as last year.
We've got the two bases, the two Sergios, I think that both of them were successful last season, despite it being difficult for them, and although they had their ups and downs, in the end they came out well. We've kept Carroll and Pocius, players which are already aware of our working method, our idea of basketball and we hope they can give it a bit more than last year, as they're players who've already been with us for a while. And on the inside we've got very important players, such as Felipe (Reyes), Mirza (Begic) and Niko (Mirotic). Therefore, the basis, so-to-speak, both in terms of the point guard and the small forwards and centers is very similar, which we have added an inside player to, an outside one and a point guard to enhance our play. Although it's obvious that we also like the versatility which some players bring with them.
Will this pre-season be focused on winning the Supercopa?
If we were to focus the pre-season only on thinking about the Supercopa, which is the top official trophy, we would be wrong. The Supercopa is the first great test; the first trophy. I think that the work of a season is done when the foundations are laid at the beginning, during the pre-season. Therefore, only thinking about the Supercopa would be very short-sighted. One of the things that the group did was to grow during the year; it was a especial season during which we had players to had to return to the NBA, as well as players arriving in the middle of the season, such as Kyle, but despite all that, the team grew. That goes some way to explain what we're looking to do, growing throughout the year. That doesn't mean we'll put the Supercopa to one side, far from it; it's the top official trophy. But it's true that the foundations we are going to try to lay during the first days of work are not only for the Supercopa. We must we aware that we have a long season ahead.
You'll play two games against NBA teams in the USA and Canada...
Yes, I am sure that it's very appealing to spectators, as well as for us, the players. In the end you are up against teams from the best League in the world, the NBA, and that has its attraction, but we mustn't forget that they're friendlies for them. We'll go there to compete at the highest level, we are sure that we'll play well, but let's not forget that two days after landing we've got to play two games.