| Marcus Eriksson is a product of a currently talent-laden Swedish youth system|
By Dimitris Kontos
Young Swedish international Marcus Eriksson made the most of a big opportunity this year, but his first full season in the Spanish Liga Endesa has left him with a bitter-sweet taste.
La Bruixa d'Or Manresa, the club for which he played on loan from FC Barcelona, got off to a very promising start to the season but slowed down abruptly in the winter and could not avoid relegation from the top flight.
The 21-year-old Swedish winger however got plenty of playing time, averaged 11.2 points and 2 rebounds per game and was voted in the Liga Endesa All-Youth Team together with Guillem Vives, Alex Abrines, Kristaps Porzingis and Walter Tavares, who all played for teams that finished in the upper half of the standings.
The distinction is a stamp of approval at senior level that every player needs, no matter how impressive their credentials had been in youth completions.
Eriksson turned heads ever since he first pulled on a Swedish jersey, at the U16 European Championship Division B in 2009 and went on to showcase his mid- and long-range shooting skills to a wider audience at the U20 European Championship.
The Swedish sharp-shooter averaged 15.9 points per game in 2012 to finish as the sixth-leading scorer in the tournament and then raised his scoring average to 17.7 points in 2013, as the third-best scorer in the tournament in Estonia.
His stat lines at Manresa this season serve as a proof that, although he is highly unlikely to hit 78-of-80 three-point attempts in street clothes again, like he did as a teenager, he can more than stand his ground with the big boys as a natural-born scorer.
Fibaeurope.com caught up with the Swedish prodigy shortly before the end of the Spanish league season.
|Eriksson has represented his country at every youth level|
Your team struggled this year but you must feel satisfied with your individual performances in your first full ACB season. Everyone knew you can shoot the ball, but what other aspects of the game did you work on this year?
Of course I wanted the team to win more games and not be in this difficult situation, we are really disappointed for the club. When the team wins, everything is more positive. As for me, I try to keep working and trying to improve every day, but I would have preferred the team to have done better. I don't really focus on just one thing, I try to do everything well, so I work a lot on different things, from defence to attacking the basket, shooting off the pick'n'roll, my training includes a bit of everything.
You arrived in Spain when you were 16, did you have a hard time adjusting to the conditions you found and are you happy with your progress as a player during these years?
I had a friend, Jonathan Person, with whom we played on the same team in Sweden, that went to Spain the year before I did. So he made me want to see what it's like and I initially came with a one-year contract to give it a try. I have now been here for four years, so I can say that I adapted really well. I started by playing in the third division, I think I have improved quite a lot and it was the right choice.
Do you think you are going to continue playing in Spain?
Spain is a really good basketball country, so I can see myself staying here to play. It is like a second home for me now and also there are two other Swedish players in Barcelona so we spend time together.
You represented Sweden in all three youth-level European Championships (U16, U18 and U20), what are the special memories you still have from so many games with the national team at such a young age?
|Eriksson teaming up with Jeffery Taylor is a tantalising prospect|
It's always nice to play for the national team, we are more like brothers than team-mates, so every summer is special really. The only thing is that I would have liked us to have gone a little bit further when we played in Division A, I am not really happy with the results we got. I remember my first year at the U20 (in 2012) we had a tough group but we were so close in the game against Slovenia and we could have won, but unfortunately we lost.
Have you pictured yourself playing for the senior national team and making up a killer scoring duo on the wing with Jeffery Taylor?
Yes, some time in the future, I would like to play for the senior national team. Taylor is an amazing player, I have never seen him play in person, but on TV he looks really amazing. He is an all-around player who is also very athletic and can go to the rim, so for sure it would be very nice to play with him.
The EuroBasket 2015 Qualifying Round is coming up for Sweden in the summer, have you spoken with coach Vedran Bosnic about your participation?
We haven't spoken so much yet because he was coaching in the play-off finals in Sweden (steered Södertälje Kings to the league title) and there was not so much time. We'll see what happens in the summer. It depends, I have also put my name in the [NBA] draft this year, so I don't really know yet what is going to happen.