Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors, Conference Call Sept. 26, 2007
Q: What is the biggest improvement you need to make?
A: I have to improve a lot in the rebounding area and my game in the low-post. That is what we worked a lot with my coaches last year. This is what I have to work on this year.
Q: Is it a challenge to have the training camp in Italy with so many people wanting your attention?
A: It’s very unique to go to my country with my NBA team. I will play in front of my family, my parents. That will be very special.
Q: How excited are you about your first time in Rome as an NBA star?
A: First of all, I am not an NBA star. I still have to work on my game to become a star. Of course, I am very excited to go to Rome with my NBA team. This is something very big; I will be nervous to play in front of my family and my fans. It will be the first time all my family will be able to watch me play.
Q: How are you right now after the defeat of your National Team in the European Championship?
A: I am very upset about that, we played bad basketball and we were not a team on the center court so we have to work a lot next year to improve. We are a new team so these things can happen.
Q: How are you feeling physically? Did you do anything different for your training, preparing you for the physical year you will probably have to play with the Raptors?
A: I worked a lot physically. I don't think I have to put a lot weight on my body. I am 255, 258 pounds, like a lot of people in the NBA. I just have to learn how to guard bigger people.
Q: You were selected first overall in last year’s draft. Have you seen the impact this selection had on the basketball culture in your country?
A: I wish the basketball culture could be bigger in Italy but compared to soccer, it is still smaller. This is quite difficult; basketball is less popular in Italy.
Q: What do you think about players like Sarunas Jasikevicius or maybe Andrei Kirilenko that want to come back and play in Europe?
A: They are good players. I didn’t know anything about Kirilenko wanting to go back playing in Europe! They can play in the NBA like they can play in Europe. It’s their decision.
Q: Do you think that your experience on the National Team can improve your style of playing in your second season in the NBA?
A: I hope, because I played against very good players that are playing in Euroleague, so I think you can always learn something from these players.
Q: When you played in the EuroBasket this summer, you were the biggest name on the team? Did you feel any extra pressure going into the tournament?
A: I had that pressure the year before the draft and in the EuroBasket of course. There was a lot of emotion.
Q: It was the first time you have been with the National Team in a major competition, how would you compare the training and the settle to that which you have in the NBA?
A: The training is very different because we worked together for almost two months and we were practicing twice a day, almost every day for two hours. So it’s a different style of training I think. Here we practice once a day, so in Europe it's quite different.
Q: What do you think your team can achieve this year with the Eastern Conference getting tougher?
A: It will be more difficult. We'll try to do like last year and get to the next round in the Playoffs. I think that's the target of everybody.
Q: Did Coach Mitchell talk to you about being in The Finals? Are the expectations really high for your team?
A: Coach Mitchell didn't tell me anything about that. It's very hard to speak about The Finals. We know we are a good team. We will work hard and if we play good we can go very far but we still have to work.
Q: Have you set any goals for yourself personally coming into your second season in the NBA?
A: Yes, I have to improve my rebounds. I keep working and trying to improve like I did last year, that's why I'm in Toronto.
Q: Jose Calderon said he was excited about having the team in Europe for training camp as it would be a bonding experience. Would you agree with that?
A: Yes, of course. We'll be able to go out to dinner a lot of times and eat some good Italian food!
Q: Do you feel ready to be in the starting five?
A: I don't know if I will be in the starting five; we have a lot of good players. I'm going to work hard in practice and after that the coach will make his decision.
Q: After the EuroBasket how do you want to work with the international team in the future?
A: We just played really bad so we have to work a lot and improve. But I'm not thinking about next year yet, I'm just thinking about being in the Raptors.
Q: So your relationship with the National Team will go on?
A: Yes, why not? I have to play almost 100 games now with the Raptors, so it's hard for me to think about next year now.
Q: In what way can you improve as a team to make it to the Playoffs again?
A: Last year, we played very good basketball because we passed each other the ball so it was a fun game to watch. I just think we have to continue to play on this line and continue to get better. Always better and better.
Q: What impressed you most positively and negatively in your first year in America?
A: Positive, there are a lot of things: all the people that work round the league; the organization is perfect and is something amazing if we compare it to Europe. Negative, I can't really tell you anything negative because I had so much fun. Just positive things.
Q: Is there something that you miss about Italian basketball and Italy in general?
A: Yes, of course. I miss Italy. I miss my home town. I miss my friends and family. That's normal. It's a different game. I have so much fun in the NBA that I don't want to go back.
Q: Do you keep in touch with your friends and follow Italian basketball?
A: Yes. I call them up all the time and I follow the Italian league very closely.
Q: What do you think about the Italian Championship?
A: I think that Sienna is the best team right now because they have the same players as last year plus a few new players, so they have the best team right now.
Q: Like your teammates in Toronto showed you around Toronto, are you ready to show them around Italy?
A: Yes. I will be very, very busy with lots of stuff, so I don't know if I will have time to show them that much. For sure I won't have time to show them Rome. To see Rome you need at least two months!
Q: What do you think this trip in Europe can bring to your team?
A: People will be so far from home that you become more of a team, as you have to stay close together. I think that's the main difference that will be better.
Q: What do you think of the teams you will be playing against, Lottomatica and Real Madrid?
A: They are very good teams in Europe. They have a lot of players that could play in the NBA, so they will be tough teams.