|04 April 2006|
By Julio Chitunda, PA Sport
Guilherme Giovannoni and Marcelo Huertas will go into battle as team-mates with Brazil at the FIBA World Championship in Japan but on Friday, they will be enemies.
Giovannoni's BC Kyiv, who are hosting the EuroCup Final Four, take on Huertas' DKV Joventut.
"I have already spoken with him [Marcelo Huertas] about this tournament," Giovannoni said to PA Sport.
"He is finding unbelievable success in the Spanish league. It'll be a pleasure to face him mainly because we are team-mates in the Brazilian national team.
"My (Kyiv) team-mates and I have to be wary of him."
Both players have played very important roles for their teams this season.
Huertas has averaged seven points and 2.3 assists per game for DKV this season in the ACB. In one game against Valladolid, he poured in 27 points while in DKV's quarter-final clinching victory over Lokomotiv Rostov in the EuroCup, he had 17.
Giovannoni has been influential as well, averaging 11.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in the EuroCup.
Players like LaMarr Greer deservedly receive many of the headlines when it comes to Kyiv but Giovannoni has been equally important in their run to the Final Four.
"The first game will be crucial for us," Giovannoni said. "We are prepared to think only about this game first, and then, to the next one.
"The concentration must be our main weapon."
Kyiv have unfinished business.
|Dynamo St. Petersburg defeated BC Kyiv in the FIBA Europe League championship game last year|
Giovannoni wasn't around last year at this time when they had a chance to lift the FIBA Europe League trophy, only to watch them fall to Dynamo St Petersburg in Istanbul.
They do seem to have an edge as the home side this time, but Fenerbahce hosted the FIBA Europe League Final Four last season and that did not work in their favour as they lost to Kyiv in one semi-final.
"We cannot suffer under the pressure of playing at home," Giovannoni said.
"It might create adversity for us.
"I have to say that in this kind of tournament, playing at home or away means little.
"In theory, it might seem that we have the advantage, but we only have the advantage of being used to the court and nothing else."
Giovannoni, a 2.04m forward, hit the ground running with Kyiv, scoring 12 points in a 90-63 triumph at St Petersburg, the side that beat them 63-61 in last year's FIBA Europe League final.
He would love a decisive result like that against DKV.
"We are well prepared, physically and psychologically for this semi-final," he said.
"We have a single goal: to win the trophy despite the demands of this tournament.
"We recognise the other teams' quality and value, which means that any one can win it, but we are strongly focused on it."
Giovannoni says there has been no problem preparing for the big event.
"Our coach already has too much information about our opponents for this tournament," he said.
Down The Road
Giovannoni isn't sure where he will be next season, so he wants to make this one count.
The player, whose great grandparents originally hailed from Italy, left his native Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2000 and signed for Fuenlabrada in Spain.
Italy was his second European stop, and he played for Benetton Treviso and then spent a season at Biella before returning to Treviso this season.
He switched to Kyiv and hasn't regretted the move.
"This [playing in Ukraine] has been a different experience mainly because I'm coming from the Italian league which is one of the best in Europe," Giovannoni said.
"Before I signed for BC Kyiv, I spoke with coach Renato Pasquali who gave me good references of the team and the city.
"I also spoke with some friends who had already played here and I had no reason to refuse it. The city is wonderful and also the people.
"I've played three years and half in Italy. I always enjoyed the country. The league is very competitive and I hope to go back one day and do better than I've done in the past.
"I hope to go back to Italy or Spain one day. Comparing those two leagues (Spanish and Italian) is a bit complicated because they are very competitive, though the Spanish is seemingly financially better off.
"For example, the Spanish have been signing the best Italian players in recent seasons. "