Far Away, So Close For Poeta, Barton

07.03.2014

FEATURE

Giuseppe Poeta (Italy)
Giuseppe Poeta is getting accomodated to the playing style in Spain after spending the last ten years in Italy

fibaeurope.com caught up recently with Giuseppe Poeta and Lubos Barton, two veteran European players who have had somewhat of a parallel trajectory this year, after playing at EuroBasket 2013.

Both the Italian and Czech internationals arrived at big Spanish clubs midway through the season as temporary cover for sidelined-through-injury players and both seem now more than likely to finish the year at their current clubs.

Poeta picked up an injury shortly after joining Euroleague side Laboral Kutxa Vitoria but could return to action as soon as on Friday, against Panathinakos.

In any case, the 28-year-old Italian point guard saw enough action in his first two months in Spain to be intrigued.

Poeta continues to accumulate basketball knowledge by comparing the style of the game in the Iberian country to basketball in his native country, where he spent the first ten years of his career.

"It's very different compared to Italy," Poeta commented.

"In Spain they play more with the big guys, the ball goes in the paint very often.

"The frontcourt players, the '3', the '4', the '5' they seem bigger in size and it's a more physical game.

"In Italy it's much more about the pick'n'roll and speed at the perimeter.

"Here small and power forwards are more solid so there is also much more low-post play, which you don't see so often in Italy."

Barton on the other hand has spent a sizeable chunk of his career in Spain, playing for Joventut Badalona, FC Barcelona and Fuenlabrada for a number of years.

Even so, the soon-to-be 34-year-old Czech forward did not expect to receive a call from Valencia, who are having a record season, back in late December, asking him to return to Spain.

"Actually, I was a little bit surprised because with the financial situation right now most teams cannot or will not sign players like me, of a certain age," Barton said.

"I was especially surprised that a team like Valencia would take me, even on a short contract, it was a couple of weeks really at the beginning."

"But I got into my role pretty well, I am very happy with my role, I feel I can help the team and I just want to keep it going."

 

11. Lubos Barton (Czech Republic)
Lubos Barton: "We really presented ourselves well [at EuroBasket]; we came close to shocking the other teams"

WOULD HAVE BEEN, COULD HAVE BEEN

Italy and the Czech Republic, with Poeta and Barton on their respective squads, had clashed twice during qualification for EuroBasket 2013.

They did not coincide at September's event as their teams followed different routes, but the big tournament left both players with an almost identical renewed sense of dedication to the national team cause.

"[EuroBasket 2013] was very important for us, the Italian team," Poeta explained.

"This is a group of players that has been together for five or six years now, born in years from 1985 through 1988 and grew up as a group.

"We had started off badly, we had to take a lot of stick, but we reacted at this EuroBasket and we made an excellent tournament, we came one bad quarter from making the semi-finals.

"We lost to Lithuania, a team that eventually made it to the final, but we kept our head high.

"We have to pick it up from there, because in 2015 we want to be among the protagonists."

The showpiece September event in Slovenia left Barton with a remarkably similar after-taste to that of his Italian colleague.

"It was a great experience for us," the Czech veteran said.

"We were not favourites, we were in a tough group (Group C) and if you look at it we came quite close to winning one more game and going to the second round.

"But it's a case of could have, would have.... you cannot play that kind of game."

He states laughing, "I think we did a very good job, considering we couldn't make an outside shot or free throws!

"We really presented ourselves well; we came close to shocking the other teams.

"I hope this serves as an impulse for the next generations, for the future."

 

Satoransky, Tomás; Barton, Lubos (EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round)
Barton enjoys playing in the national team alongside youngsters like Tomas Satoransky

SUMMERS WITH THE NATIONAL TEAM

The short-term future of Italy lays in 2nd Qualification Round Group G, doing battle for top spot with Russia and Switzerland.

"Let's just say we were not very lucky with the draw," Poeta shrugs it off.

"We have Russia, probably the strongest team from all those seeds.

"But ok, it is what it is."

The Czech Republic on the other hand were drawn in Group E, together with Portugal, Hungary and Georgia.

"I think it's a pretty good group for us but obviously we will have to be in good shape, have our key players back and then we can think about advancing," Barton said.

Another thing in which Poeta and Barton coincide is their summer plans. Their top priority is playing again for the national team.

"Me? For as long as they call me, I will go," Poeta said categorically about playing for Italy.

"We have a great group of guys, both on and off the court, and I think that is what brings us even closer together."

Barton is at an age where the thought of retirement from international duty has crossed his mind - but it seems to have left him now that he is in Valencia.

"I don't set goals now, because I thought this past EuroBasket would be my last time," the Czech veteran said.

"But to be honest, I really enjoy so much being around the young players [at the national team] because there is a big generational difference; we're talking about 10 or 12 years.

"If I saw that I am not physically well I would definitely stop, but right now I have this energy, like a second youth as they say and if nothing bothers me, I just want to keep playing."

Even if Tomas Satoransky and the other youngsters on the Czech team tease Barton and fellow veteran Jiri Welsch for their age?

"Of course you can always make fun of the old guys because they don't jump as high anymore," Barton said with a smile.

"But well, let me tell you, we play one-on-one every time before practice and usually I beat him," he added tongue-in-cheek.


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