Bayern Munich opened their new home the Audi Dome with a friendly against Turkish giants. heinnews’s David Hein was on hand and found the time to catch up with Fenerbahce forward Emir Preldzic. They talked about expectations for the club this season; pressure on the club with the Euroleague Final Four taking place in Istanbul in May; Turkey’s disappointing showing at EuroBasket 2011; his first stint with the Turkish national team; and star Turkey talent Enes Kanter.
heinnews: Looking at the preparation for the season, you had a close game tonight. What do you think about the build-up to the season?
Preldzic: It’s alright. We have some tired and injured players. We have been on the road for 10 days. We fought today but Bayern was better. They deserved to win.
heinnews: Fenerbahce seem like a pretty young team with a lot of talent, including yourself, what do you want to do this year – maybe starting with the Turkish league.
Preldzic: Turkish league you know our goal like always is to win the cup and try to take the championship. But in the Euroleague we want to improve this year. We have a big chance. We have a new arena. So we’re going to give our best. Of course step by step. Top 16, top 8 and try to get to the Final Four.
heinnews: Looking at your Group A, you have Olympiacos, Caja Laboral, Bizkaia Bilbao, SLUC Nancy and Bennet Cantu.
Preldzic: Yeah, it’s a tough group. We need to win our games at home and steal a few games away and then we’ll see how it’s gonna be.
heinnews: Does the team sense that there will be pressure there to make the Final Four since it is in Istanbul in May?
Preldzic: I think we will have some pressure, especially in the second round. We know that we have two teams from Istanbul that are playing in the Euroleague. And one of them, let’s say, must be in there. So we’re going to fight and try, but we are a young team and that could be a bad thing. We are young and if people put pressure on us it can be bad.
heinnews: What are you looking forward to this season from a personal standpoint?
Preldzic: Like always, I just want to improve my game in all areas I can. But whatever coach wants from me – if he wants me to help with the organization of the game, that’s it. Maybe I will improve a bit on defense and get some weight.
heinnews: How tired are you? You just got back from the EuroBasket in Lithuania.
Preldzic: We got back and I had like five days.
heinnews: What did you do?
Preldzic: I went home. I’m from Bosnia, I went there. Then I came back and right away we started the road trip. Now I am looking forward to going home to sleep a little bit in Istanbul because I didn’t have any rest this summer.
heinnews: What do you think about what happened in Lithuania? Turkey squeezed into the second round but then failed in the end to make the top eight after winning silver at the 2010 World Championship?
Preldzic: Something wasn’t right this summer. We worked really hard in preparations and everything. We were together like a family. But in the last two or three minutes we couldn’t keep our concentration and we couldn’t hit our last minute shots. Without luck and belief you cannot go so far.
heinnews: How big of a disappointment was it not making the quarterfinals?
Preldzic: It was big especially after last year they were second in the world. After that you cannot make the top eight in EuroBasket, it was a big disappointment. Now we will have a younger national team and we will keep working hard and try to do something better in Slovenia in 2013.
heinnews: This was your first summer with the Turkish national team. How do you think it went, how were you received?
Preldzic: It was a little weird the first few days, but they accepted me really, really well. I knew almost all the players from the Turkish league. I just didn’t know the NBA players but they were really good people and they accepted me well. After a few days it was a normal feeling.
heinnews: Enes Kanter had not played in the past two years before coming to the Turkey national team. How did he progress in the couple of months this summer?
Preldzic: The problem is that the last two years he was in the States. It’s a completely different basketball. He had problems adapting in the first couple months. But he’s a really strong guy, he’s really talented. He’s just 19. I think he is going to be one of the best players in the NBA.
heinnews: And bet it’s good to know he’s on your team too.
Preldzic: Yeah of course, he’s going to be a big help. I think we can use him a lot in Slovenia.