Barça Regal star reflects on his first year at the Club and stresses the great atmosphere in the squad and their excellent comeback in the league final against Real Madrid
Huertas believes he’s settled in well and that the team were maybe not mentally at their best for the Cup and Euroleague Finals
You will be taking part in the Olympic games with Brazil this summer, what are you hoping for?
More than anything that we can live up to what is expected of us. Brazil are a competitive team and now we have our biggest test. None of us have ever played in an Olympics before and we are all very excited about it. It’s hard to predict what will happen with so many good teams involved and it will be key to finish the first phase as well as we can. We are in a group with USA and we want to avoid them later on. We have a coach–Ruben Magnano- who was an Olympic champion and he will help us put in a good job in London.
Marcelinho Huertas has finished his first season at the Club and in an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat just before he starts his summer break, he looked back on that first campaign and ahead to this summer’s Olympic games.
We started the interview at the point he scored the winning three pointer in the first game of the League Final play offs at the Palau. Are you proudest of that game or of other matches?
No, I think everything we have done has been great, not just the games we won, but also the great effort the team have put in. What makes me feel most proud is the attitude the players have shown. Being a champion is the best thing there is, but the commitment and effort we have all shown is what makes a player proudest.
How would you judge the season?
Pretty good. Maybe we fell a little short in terms of the titles we won, but we reached the Finals of every competition, which is really something. In the key games, the Cup Final or the semis of the Euroleague, we may have not done as well as we should, but overall, the season has been a good one. We won the last title of the season and that means we ended on a high. Maybe the fans would have been sadder if we’d won the Cup and the Euroleague and then gone on to lose the league play offs. I think that given all the changes and new signings we`ve had, it’s been a very good season.
What would you say to people who reckon you have reached all those finals, but at key moments you have failed?
Maybe they are right. I think in the Cup Final and the Euroleague semis we weren’t good. We were maybe not up to it mentally, when we had to come from behind – that really is hard and when you are playing a final, a one off there is a lot of pressure and as I say, coming from behind was key to our failure in those two games.
Xavi Pascual said the league title would be decided by the fittest team. Do you think that maybe you were fitter in the other finals, but not mentally tough enough?
We went into the Cup Final really fit, but maybe we hadn’t mentally prepared for having to come from behind. In the Cup final we were not as good physically as Madrid, but we were very focussed and knew what we needed to do on court – even after the defeat in the third game.
Some of the new signings this season have come in for some criticism – how do you react to that?
I can understand that and the fans have every right to say what they fell, criticism, comments, whatever, but what I don’t think is right is to criticise without knowing all the hard work that has been put in and all the efforts to improve. Every player has a role in the team and you can’t ask for more than what the coach asks for from them. We know what we have to do. In the case of CJ for example, he’s put in a great end to the season and shown that he is a big game player. The fans have to realise that it’s not an easy thing to get on court when you are behind a player like Erazem Lorbek.
There’s been a great atmosphere in the squad this season – do you think you have reached the maximum point of unity?
I hope not! I hope we can still get better – we have plenty of time ahead of us. There is a great feeling in the team and that helps to make us a winning team. As well as the tactical side, if there is a good atmosphere in the squad, that helps the team move forward. There are players like Erazem or Pete who might appear cold on court, but when we get back in the changing rooms they will give us a big hug and motivate us, which gives us that little bit extra.
How have you adapted to Barça?
Very well I think. I’m a guy who likes to talk to everyone – players and coaches alike – and try and let everyone know who I am, which makes it easy to adapt. The way that the group and the coaches have accepted me from the first moment has been great.
It’s wheeler dealer time now – do you keep an eye on that, or just disconnect?
I don’t think that is an issue for players. We have to make sure we are ready for the pre-season. Of course you build up relationships we other players and it’s tough if you know one of your mates might not be here next year, but we all know that that is a part of this job and it’s not for us to give our opinions on this.