Alex Abrines was named the MVP of the U18 European Championship in Poland after leading Spain to the gold medal. The 18-year-old was then named to the U18 All-Star Game at the 2011 EuroBasket. heinnews’s David Hein caught up with Abrines after the game to talk about playing in the All-Star Game; watching Spain’s senior national team win gold; being compared to Rudy Fernandez and where he needs to improve his game.
heinnews: Alex, you helped Spain to win the gold medal at the U18 European Championship and won the MVP process. And now you are at the U18 All-Star Game at EuroBasket 2011. Talk about how great this summer has been for you.
Abrines: To tell you the truth, it has been an unforgottable experience. Everything was perfect and now we have been given the chance to play at the All-Star and have the chance to see the semifinals and the final, so everything is great.
heinnews: You and U18 teammate Alejandro Suarez were also able to watch the Spanish senior national team practice. What was that like?
Abrines: It is a great experience to be here and see players like Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Jose Manuel Calderon and all these people. Their practice has not been a very strong one but you get to learn a lot from those guys.”
heinnews: You are playing with Unicaja. What are your expectations for this coming season?
Abrines: For starters, I have done the pre-season with Unicaja’s first team and from what he told me, our coach was very happy with me. His idea was having me practicing with them 2-3 times a week with them to keep track and play minutes with the LEB team – and if there is any injury, play with the first team.”
heinnews: So you will mainly play for the LEB second team?
Abrines: Well, I think I will have 25-30 minutes per game with the second team. The first team is complete but if there is any injury I think that coach Mateo will look to the team’s young players and I would have a chance to play with them in the Spanish League or the Euroleague.
heinnews: What do you think your chances are of playing in the Euroleague?
Abrines: We have inscribed 15 players for the Euroleague and three of us are from the second team, so we have a chance to play. I think that I will see more minutes in the Euroleague than in the Endesa League.”
heinnews: Your group in the Euroleague includes CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos, two giants in European basketball. How exciting will it be to play against them?
Abrines: It is a strong group with five league champions but I think that it would be a great experience to play against them. I can get to learn a lot from that.
heinnews: You are still young and have plenty of areas you want to improve on in your game. But where do you think you need the most work?
Abrines: I have to improve my 2×2 game in the pick and roll and my ball handling. It is something that I can improve by working hard every day.
heinnews: Playing at the U18 European Championship and in this U18 All Star Game there were plenty of NBA scouts and people from top European clubs. Do you feel a pressure at all with that?
Abrines: It is an honor that NBa and big clubs scours keep an eye on you. It opens you the doors of professional basketball.”
heinnews: During the U18 tournament in Poland, some of your teammates compared you to Rudy Fernandez. How fitting is that comparison do you think?
Abrines: Of course, it is a great honor! Rudy is a great player and our playing style is similar. But I have to work very hard to get to where he is right now. I hope I can get there one day – play in the NBA and in the Spanish national team.
heinnews: What do you think about Spain’s chances in the final against France?
Abrines: Well, I think that if they play the way they are used to, they can win. I also expect France to play well with players like Tony Parker or Joakim Noah. We will see what happens during the game.”
heinnews: Good luck in the future.