Serbian forward Nikola Kalinic spoke exclusively with TrendBasket during Fenerbahçe Doğuş’s EuroLeague Media Day,

 

Firstly, defensive and offensive leaders of the team have changed. Given that lots of changes occur in a short time, how will these changes affect the team?

It will affect us, for sure. But that’s something that happens in European basketball and you can’t do anything about it. Leaders are gone but many guys like Jan Vesely, Kostas Sloukas remain. We brought in some replacements, some great guys. Some of us are also going to step up. We improved our game, our individual quality, our team quality. Also, we have the best coach in European basketball history. We’ll find the best solutions for things happening on the court.

How is your injury?

Not so good. Honestly, I received some injections. We’ll see whether it will work in the next few days. I hope I’ll be ready in a few weeks. I’m probably not gonna be ready for the start of the EuroLeague but maybe for third or fourth round, I’ll be ready.

You didn’t get to represent Serbia in EuroBasket 2017 due to your injury and they played here in İstanbul. How did you feel when you watch your friends play and lose in the Final?

It was terrible. People don’t understand. I was there with them for one and a half month. I was also with them, while they were here. It was hard to watch. I was so happy for them but it’s hard to watch when you’re involved with all that work, when you spend one more summer of your life practicing with team and you didn’t get rewarded. If I was there or some other player was there, we might’ve won the gold. With all the guys who didn’t come -I’m not gonna repeat the whole story- I think it’s a great success. We showed Serbia is a basketball country and we know how to play basketball and whatever roster we have will be at the top.

Players in Europe have been complaining all summer about the lack of player rights and you’re one of the leaders of this movement, alongside Aaron Jackson. Last week, David Blatt told us that players need to be more proactive and found their own association. Are you going to do something about that?

Yes, of course. I’m a guy who always expresses his opinion. I’m not hiding anything. I always say what I have to say. Last year, that moment happened in a moment of anger. But I think I said many good and right things and I think some of the players start to think about it; because in every interview throughout the summer, people were asking players and coaches about this. It started something. That may be a small step but it started something. I was talking to Gigi and some other guys and I know that some older guys are going to arrange meetings. It’s going to be hard. Every beginning is hard. NBA didn’t have [a Players’ Associaton] at the beginning and when they founded it, players got some of their rights. There is a big misunderstanding about players earning millions but I always say that it’s not the point. You have to compare yourself to the best in the world and that’s the NBA. Our goal is to be like them, not to be like some lower basketball organizations.

Kemal Rutkay Özcan

İletişim: kemalrutkayozcan@gmail.com Twitter: krutkayozcan

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