Sarunas Jasikevicius talks new ACB rule, pressure, Laso's dismissal and NBA

2022-09-30 16:06

Sarunas Jasikevicius, who replaced Nick Calathes with Tomas Satoransky, expects Barcelona to play faster basketball.

Credit: Rodolfo Molina/EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages
Credit Rodolfo Molina/EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages

Sarunas Jasikevicius starts his third season at the helm of FC Barcelona with a clear objective: to win titles.

Saras began his tenure in Barca in the summer of 2020. So far, he has won ACB League once and captured two Spanish Cups.

After a roster revamp in the off-season that saw the arrivals of six players, Jasikevicius will battle it out for a position to win it all.

Catalans prevailed in the Catalan Cup at the start of the season but stumbled against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final. Now, they are ready for the start of the ACB and EuroLeague.

Alex Biescas of sat down with the Lithuanian mastermind to talk about the upcoming challenges, pressure in Barcelona, refreshed lineup, and much more.

Is the team ready to start a new season?

It is very difficult to say if we are prepared. But we have to be. No one is going to make things easy for us. We know the difficulties that teams have with new players, who have just arrived from EuroBasket 2022, but it is what it is. There are many teams in this situation.

In your case, Barca signed six new players and had seven international athletes, who represented their countries this summer.

Yes, it is very exciting, but it is also more difficult at the beginning. It is important that they are experienced players, who have passed through the hands of many coaches and who have experienced different situations. They have to adapt faster.

Do you prefer this year's squad more than last season's?

I think that in some parts we have improved and in others, we are going to see. Players, who have already won some trophies in their careers, joined us. This is very important.

All those, who come, except the youngster Oscar da Silva, have already passed through the hands of very good coaches, have the right habits, and are prepared for many situations.

Does it make the process any easier?

In theory, yes. Each coach has different coaching methods and approaches in how they deal with various basketball situations. Experienced players have the ability to adapt faster.

One of the most important changes came in the point guard position. Tomas Satoransky replaced Nick Calathes. Will the team play change?

In small details, yes. If it changes a lot, I don't know. We always try to get the best shot possible on the offensive end whether it would be the third second or 24th second. I think Satoransky is going to give a lot of basketball joy to all of us.

Will we see faster attacks?

It is said that Barca is very systematic or slow, but we are one of the teams that have the most possessions in the entire EuroLeague. In theory, Satoransky has to help more in this aspect.

Does the new ACB rule of inbounding the ball benefit you to keep a faster pace?

We are going to suffer with this rule when we play in the EuroLeague. It is difficult to adapt, but it helps a lot when you have experienced players. We have already proven it in the Spanish Super Cup.

But for example, when we are going to play a double week in the EuroLeague and in 48 hours we will have to adjust to a new rule, maybe we will forget about it.

Do you like the rule?

Yes, it makes basketball faster. We have talked at the ACB coaches meeting that sometimes it is confusing, but you have to give it a chance. That's fine, it makes the game more dynamic and faster. Besides, people in the stands are less bored.

Are Barca aiming to win it all?

For us, it is always important to have opportunities to win titles. We have to enter the finals. There is still a long way to go, but we have to give ourselves the chance to win trophies. And hopefully, we can use the opportunities.

With each passing year, do you feel more pressure to win the EuroLeague?

I don't mind the pressure. I know that it is the great illusion of this club, but right now this is far away. I don't think about it.

It's a dream to win it, but first, you have to do things right, lay the foundations, and give yourself the opportunity to the league. Hopefully, we play in the Final Four. Everything is decided very quickly there.

Are you considering changing your rotations to reach the decisive stage of the season in better condition?

If we look at the minutes and how we have shared them, there are very few teams in Europe that rotates as much as we do. Nikola Mirotic, who played the most, competed for 24 minutes per game. And with some weekends off. We are trying every way possible, but this is not the NBA.

But in terms of the number of games...

By the number of games, it is like the NBA. We played more than 90 games, but we don't have the charters and the facilities that NBA teams have across the Atlantic. In the EuroLeague, we are very well taken care of, but in the ACB League, it is not like in the NBA. Come on, we slept the night before in the hotel and we sleep again tonight… We try to do what's the best and guys understand that the season is very long.

How is Nikola Mirotic?

Mirotic continues his rehabilitation. Everything is going according to plan. But we have to be patient with him.

Do you have a date for his return?

No, we do not rely on any dates.

What do you think about the dismissal of Pablo Laso?

It seemed strange to me. I don't want to talk a lot on this topic because the Barcelona coach's words can be interpreted incorrectly. But I found it a bit strange.

Do we leave this topic aside?

Yes, it's better to do that.

What do you think about Spain's performance at FIBA EuroBasket 2022?

I'm not going to lie, I didn't expect them to win. What Sergio Scariolo has done with this team has a lot of merits. Spain has won multiple championships, with different styles and with different teams. And when they were favorites and underdogs.

Do you follow the NBA?

Every year I look at this league less. I know less about the youngsters, who are coming into the league because I watch less college basketball. I think something very bad is happening. Most of the young players don't even go to college anymore, they go straight to the G League. Now, only money matters – you earn a lot and very quickly. That's fine in the short term, but over the course of their career, it's one of the worst things that can happen to them.

I watch the NBA playoffs and finals. I really like that European players are more and more important. Our family supports the Golden State Warriors, so it's good that Stephen Curry wins it all.

Do you use something from the NBA in Barcelona?

Whenever you see something new in the NBA, it interests me. I talk to many NBA coaches and I am interested in some little things. You always have to improve and you can learn certain things from the NBA. However, people don't realize that they also watch a lot of our basketball.


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