heinnews’ David Hein this week caught up with Real Madrid’s legendary basketball coach Ettore Messina at the team’s 104-61 drubbing of Oldenburg in the Euroleague. They discussed the state of the Spanish powerhouse; the improvements of young Montenegro forward Vladimir Dasic; the coach’s move from Moscow to Madrid; how much more competitive the Spanish league is than the Russian league; and what Real need to do to be successful this season.
heinnews: Knowing that you have two big guys out – Felipe Reyes and Tomas van den Spiegel – is this the kind of performance that you wanted to see on the road?
Messina: I think the team is moving well. We have had some ups and downs, especially when we play at home. And I do not know why. The way we start games on the road is clearly much better than how we start them at home. Maybe we feel more pressure at home to start the games well. But overall I am very happy and pleased with the effort of the team, the improvement of the team because we are playing without two big guys and we have a lot of new players. So I am just happy with their effort and their quality. Obviously if they did not have that quality they would not be here. I just hope we continue without getting – let’s say – misled by this big win.
heinnews: You let Vladimir Dasic play the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter. Was that a reward for what he’s been doing in practice?
Messina: For sure. He’s a player with a lot of ability. He can become an excellent player. He has to learn how to play the three position. For sure if I have the opportunity to give him the minutes, I will give him the minutes because he deserves them because he works hard every time in practice.
heinnews: What about you personally? How has your transition gone from Moscow to Madrid?
Messina: As for basketball it’s been very good. I am in a very nice organization with professional people. And I have found the same condition that I was lucky to have in Moscow – a good team, a great group of people working together. And as for the life there, obviously you cannot say you don’t enjoy a great town like Madrid (smiling).
heinnews: Staying with basketball, how much different is it for you being in Spain and the Spanish league than being in Moscow and the Russian league?
Messina: The most important difference is that the league in Spain is extremely competitive. And you never have a chance to rest yourself or the players because maybe you don’t have a – let’s say – tough game on Sunday. In the Russian league it’s a little bit split. The first four or five teams it’s a very tough match-up every time. But honestly you have games you win because you are much better. In the Spanish league, especially when you play on the road, you can lose anywhere – because there is a big crowd, because the teams are good and because there is a lot of balance.
heinnews: How much do you enjoy that as a coach?
Messina: Well, you know, you like it. But sometimes you would like to be able to save some energy for the Euroleague games since the Euroleague is the most important competition we have in Europe right now.
heinnews: Sticking with Euroleague, the team has been playing very well so far, the big guys will be coming back. While you may not want to say the championship is the goal, but what are some of the goals you want the team to achieve?
Messina: We need to find consistency. Consistency and the ability to play well even when things are not going well. Because in the playoffs and if we get there the Top 16 not every time you have a chance to play in a game where everything goes fine. Sometimes because of the level of the opponent or because you just play a normal game and not a great game, you must be able to not panic and find a way to win in every situation.