By Jared Grellet
The Dadu U16 European Championship Men has brought a number of former players back court-side as coaches, assistants and members of their national delegations. FIBAEurope.com caught up with some of these former players in Ventspils to quiz them about the changes that the game has undertaken since they were playing.
The former players interviewed were Fabrizio (Ciccio) Della Fiori, Gints Fogels, Faruk Rasna and Jose Maria Panadero.
|Ciccio Della Fiori in action for Italy|
Fabrizio Della Fiori was one of the leading Italian basketball players of his generation, representing his country at the European Championship three times, helping his team achieve a bronze medal in Yugoslavia in 1975. Twice going to the Olympics, Della Fiori was part of the Italian team that claimed silver in Moscow in 1980. He also played in one World Championship in the Philippines in 1978. Della Fiori is in Ventspils as the head of the Italian delegation.
Gints Fogels is well familiarized with the city of Ventspils, having played his professional basketball in the city from 1994 to 1998. Once more he has the home fans behind him as head coach of the Latvian team.
Faruk Rasna played all of his basketball in his home country of Turkey, in a professional career spanning the nineties and early 2000's. With three different clubs, Rasna was able to play in European-wide competitions on eight different occasions. Rasna is in Ventspils as the Turkish assistant coach.
Jose Maria Panadero played professionally in Spain in the nineties and 2000's. In 1997, Panadero played in the Korac Cup for Caceres CB. The guard is now the assistant coach for the Spanish.
All four interviewees were asked the same three questions: what do you remember from playing basketball as a 16-year-old?; What is different in the game now from when you played?; and what are the pressures facing this generation of players?
FIBAEurope.com: What do you remember from playing basketball as a 16-year-old?
Della Fiori: I only started to play basketball when I was 14 years old and I first represented Italy at U18 level. We finished third in Europe. I remember it was a good European Championship. The most important thing is that I was young!
Fogels: The basketball I played when I was 16 was from another planet! Sometimes we played smarter basketball. You could afford to be either fast, smart or strong. You did not need to be all three things.
Panadero: It was a long time ago and I am afraid of it!
FIBAEurope.com: What is different in the game now from when you played?
|Gints Fogels and Latvia made it to round two of the U16 European Championship|
Della Fiori: The difference is that we were not as physical, but I think we were better technically. Now they are more physical. For me now, basketball is like a different game. The players are bigger and stronger.
Fogels: Basketball is faster now and defence is much more physical. There are more pick and rolls and the speed is much quicker.
Rasna: Right now there are more potential starting players on the court. In the past it was not like this. Basketball has increased in pace to become a very fast game if I compare it to when I played. The rotation has also increased with the chance for more players to pick up big minutes on the court. In the past we played with a six or seven man rotation, whereas now the rotation includes almost all 12 players.
Panadero: The boys have more skills and abilities. They can all shoot and pass. When I played, players were not as physically developed. Now kids are getting bigger and stronger and they know how to use it [their size] in the game. However, they do not perhaps read the game as well as we did but this understanding is increasing day-by-day.
FIBAEurope.com: What are the pressures facing this generation of players?
Della Fiori: Of course there is pressure but when I played there was pressure for us too. There was less television but European championships and the Olympic games were still important. Now there is much more money than when I played but when you play in an important event the pressure is the same. I played in the Olympics, the European Championships and the World Championships, and the pressure on the coaches, staff and players was the same.
Fogels: Of course now they are being scouted younger so have more pressure to perform. On the court their decision making also needs to be faster, placing more pressure on them.
Rasna: The players receive more scrutiny now but it anchors them. To see media and scouts in the gym helps to motivate them to play. If they make it to the senior team there will be more media and people watching them so this gives them good preparation for that.
Panadero: First of all the media. The media is over them all the time. They all have agents and press conference guys. When I was 16 we had it too but not on the same level. Now everybody is on social networks talking about them and ranking them. There are a lot of things that are wrong in basketball nowadays that are not helping the boys to develop their skills. They have to be focused only on the game and try and forget all of the things around them.