The new season is upcoming and the supporters had the first chance to meet the players of Cantu yesterday during the team uninformal meeting in Cantu. The official presentation will be held in a couple of weeks as the team is still missing five players that are currently playing for their national teams in the eurobasket qualifying round. They are Marco Cusin and Pietro Aradori (Italy), Manuchar Markoishvili (Georgia), Johnatan Tabu (Belgium) and Alex Tyus (Israel).
I was there and had an interesting talk with Maarten Leunen (206-F-85, college: Oregon), at his fourth season with the team, who's looking ahead to the Euroleague qualifying round and is ready to welcome all of the new guys that joined the team for the first time yesterday.
For the first time in the last three seasons there were a lot of changes in the roster this year. It seems it is going to be a very athletic team a little bit less technical than before. Do you agree? Well, no question. Last year we had a lot of european players and we had Vladimir (Micov) who's not so athletic and we're kind of replacing those type of players with young and athletic players and it's going to be interesting just because our style of play has always been kind of slow it down, run half court offense, while this year we might get out and run in transition, it might be a different style of play.
It will take a little time to build a good team chemistry as many players don't know each others yet... Yes, for sure, but I think I'll be a big part just because I've been with this coach for three years, I understand his system and I'm pretty sure that he'll fit me in into the pieces where I can get guys in spots that they need to. Moreover some of the key pieces will remain. We got Manu (Markoishvili), then Tabu is coming back and all of the other guys from last season are players that understand what the coach wants.
You had your first Euroleague experience last season. We saw that this competition gave great satisfactions but in the meantime the team paid a lack of energy in some league games. It's great to have the chance to enter the competition qualifying round and try to make it to the regular season again. Will this be a good chance to be taken and a primary goal? Yes, that's our goal number one, at least for me is to get back in the euroleague. I think it's very important for us, it's a great experience for us. I love competing at the highest level, so I'd love to play in the euroleague again. I'm trying to make that happen. I'm gonna tell all these younger guys that haven't experienced what euroleague is alike.
Talking about the league, it seems that the Siena era has ended and that Milano has become the top team in Italy. Which are your sensations about next season. Siena is a top team anyway because of their history and because they're bringing in great players, Milano defintively got a lot of talented players but I think next season will be everybody's opportunity because Siena no longer is the power they used to be. They still got great players but no longer do they have the core nucleus. So i think anyone has a chance next year, everybody has got a hope. Whoever comes in competing and comes in the best shape has a good chance of competing for the italian championship.
Do you think you can be helpful for the other guys from the US who came to Cantu recently? Yes, for sure. This is my fourth year in Cantu and the fifth in overseas basketball so I understand, specially throughout the italian league, what it takes to be at the top so I can just relay down to the other guys and hopefully we'll have a good year and will be competing for the italian championship