Miami, FL (October 10, 2005):
Please find below the teleconference transcript featuring Memphis Grizzlies’ Head Coach Mike Fratello and Grizzlies’ player Pau Gasol discussing the NBA Puerto Rico 2005 — the upcoming international preseason game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat on October 14 th, 2005.
|Grizzlies Head Coach Mike Fratello.
Coach Fratello's Opening Statement:
"First I would like to say that Pau is here with me. He just joined me after a very strong practice section. So we would like to say hello to everyone. We are anxious to be in Puerto Rico. It has been many years since I've been there, so it will be a treat to go back and hopefully see some of the great people that I have met when I was there last time. Obviously we will play a very formidable opponent, Miami, so our players know that they have a very difficult challenge ahead of them."
Q: Will you bring the best possible show to the fans in Puerto Rico? Are you able to play your best players as Coach Popovich did recently in the Virgin Islands on the forth quarter with Duncan and Tony Parker?
"We will be bringing sixteen players with us that are now on our training camp roster, with the exception of one player who will not be with us because of an injury. We will leave him here and that is Brian Cardinal. The rest of our team will be there. We will play different people. We'll divide up minutes, so we can take a look at some different combinations. But to answer your question, yes… all of our best players will play significant minutes during this game. That will be our second preseason game. We play one at home just before that on Wednesday here against Chicago, and then we travel to Puerto Rico. So you will get to see our roster in full force play."
Q: Will it be more difficult to make the playoffs this year because of all the new players on the team, with the western conference being so competitive over the past few years, and a possible early loosing streak due to team chemistry? How important is team chemistry, and how do you plan on building it before the season even starts to avoid an early loosing streak?
"First of all, chemistry is very important. That is the reason why teams that stay intact do not make a change on their coaching staff and do not make a change on five, six or seven key players. That is generally why they come back and get off to a 12-4 start in the season. They know what they are doing. They have a good understanding of what the coach's philosophy is, and they know what their style of play or system is; therefore, they go out and execute it and kind of get an early jump over other people. At the same time, this does not mean that you cannot make significant changes and wind up getting out of the gates quickly. Will the western conference be tougher this year? Well, I believe it will be. I think there were teams that were non-playoff contenders that are really strengthening themselves this year, and we will have our work cut out for us. It is a major challenge for us this year to try and make the playoffs in the western conference."
Q: Will you ask Pau to make anything different this year? Is there a part of the game that you want him to improve?
"Pau has done a tremendous job in the off-season dedicating himself and coming back in a very good shape and stronger than he was last season. Up to this point, he has done extremely well on our training camp. So I would say that he took our conversations from last year, and took upon himself to work very hard on his game. That is the exciting thing for me."
"We are excited of going down to Puerto Rico, and we will have the opportunity to practice there on the day that we fly in. We fly in the morning and then practice. On game day, we get another shoot around practice in the morning, play that night, and fly right back because we immediately have another game the next day in Memphis. So it will be a quick stop for us in Puerto Rico, but one that we are looking forward to. Thank you."
|Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol.
Q: What is the biggest difference about playing in front of an international crowd and in an NBA Stadium? Is one more intense than the other? Does one have more pressure than the other?
"I guess there is a different atmosphere, mainly because of the arena. I never had to play in Puerto Rico, but I am looking forward to be there and play in front of the Puerto Rican fans. We already had a chance to play overseas a couple of years ago in Paris, France, against San Antonio, and then in Barcelona. So we kind of have that experience, and I think it will be fun and good for both teams as we are getting ready for the new season. So it will be a serious game, but at the same time we'll try to make sure the fans have a good time, enjoy themselves and get a feel for the NBA.”
Q: Is this your first time in Puerto Rico?
"Yes, this will be my first time in Puerto Rico. I never had the opportunity to go there before. I think that this opportunity is very good even though we practically only have one day there. It will be too fast. First we will play Chicago here at home, and then right after Puerto Rico we will play Washington to next day back home. So hopefully soon I will have more time to visit and travel across this country. At the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity to play there and to see how the local fans and the local game atmosphere will be."
Q: What do you thing about playing against Shaquille?
"Well, I already had the opportunity to play against him many times, at least one game a season. This time it will be a bit different as Coach Fratello wants to divide up the minutes among the players to see different combinations. So we will see what happens."
Q: Were you able to relax during the summer? Are you coming back more refreshed for this new season?
"I'm coming back more relaxed as I did not play any international tournaments with Spain during this braek, so I had more time to relax, recuperate from my injury and get ready for this upcoming season. I am more refreshed, relaxed and can't wait to start playing basketball because I have not played team basketball practically since May. So I am ready to start this new preseason with lots of energy."
Q: Did you travel anywhere during the summer?
"Yes, I went to Singapore with the competitors from Madrid for 2012. I also visited South Africa with UNICEF, since I am an ambassador for the organization. I also have time to travel across Europe to Paris and Madrid. This summer I had many trips for me to relax as well as to comply with some prior responsibilities too."
Q: What do you think about this globalization process the NBA is undergoing with players such as Carlos Arroyo, Eduardo Najera and Manu Ginobili?
"I see the globalization of the NBA at a very high level. In fact, the NBA basketball is getting more and more international at all levels: South American, European, Asiatic, and etc. This is a good sign that means that the NBA international players are able to play a great role and cause great impression for the globalization of the sport as we continue to open more doors for international talent in the NBA."
Q: How do you think you will do this season?
"I believe it will be a difficult season. It will be a season full of changes and with many new faces, which means that we need to learn to adapt to one another. So we will see if we are capable of such task. The preseason is very important for us. It is very imperative for us to unite and to get us at a good level for the upcoming regular season. We do not want to bring our level down this season, but we understand that getting a spot in the playoffs will be complicated."
Q: This year you did not play for Spain. Do you have plans to join your national team at the tournament in Japan next year?
"Yes, without a doubt. For me this year was a time to relax and to recuperate well from my injuries even though I felt really bad watching my team play at the international tournament without me. So I really look forward to play the next tournament, help out my teammates and be able to defend the colors of my country."
Q: Taking in mind this Puerto Rico game and the globalization of the NBA, what do you think about the possibility of an NBA team outside the U.S. and Canada?
"I think it would be very good. One of the top differences about the NBA basketball and other international leagues is the marketing and the organizational system the NBA has. The NBA is very organized, and they make great efforts for to guarantee the enjoyment of the fans. If the NBA really opens its doors internationally and have many teams out of the U.S. and Canada, I believe it would be more interesting and would open new doors for talents all around the world."
"We appreciate all the media who called in today. Thank you very much, and we look forward to see you all in Puerto Rico. "