After seven years, Spanish international Fernando San Emeterio will trade the Euroleague for the Eurocup this season as he has set a goal for Valencia to win the competition.
And why not? He has enjoyed a successful summer, helping Spain win Eurobasket 2015 in Lille.
No doubt though, it will be a tough challenge ahead but Valencia are amongst the favourites to lift the Eurocup trophy this year and earn an automatic spot in the Euroleague for the 2016-17 season. They have won the competition three times already and are gunning for an unprecedented fourth crown.
“It is a change of scenery and we will try to win the Eurocup,” San Emeterio said. “I am excited about it; I played the final with Girona against Joventut in Turin and it is something missing for me. Obviously, we have to do a lot of things well to have the chance to win it.”
Since losing to that stacked Joventut Badalona team that included talent such as Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Pau Ribas and Demond Mallet in 2008, San Emeterio has been a Euroleague regular with Laboral Kutxa. The 31-year-old spent seven seasons with Baskonia before a fresh challenge was needed.
Despite still being a key figurehead in any side he steps on to the court with, San Emeterio is aware that he still needs to be cautious as he searches for his role on a new team.
“I think that I already had an important role in Vitoria and I will have to look for the right one in this team,” he said “I am a new player that makes you cautious and take things little by little.
“I gave this decision a lot of thought and I needed new challenges. After thinking about it a lot, I took the decision to come to Valencia and am happy about it.”
And so far, San Emeterio and Valencia have begun the season on a positive note, an 88-82 win on the opening day of the Liga Endesa against Euroleague champions Real Madrid has given them the ultimate confidence boost ahead of their Eurocup opener tomorrow night at SLUC Nancy.
San Emeterio knows that capturing the Eurocup title will just as hard as the Euroleague, something that the veteran, who boasts a total of four medals with Spain has never done.
“Well, a lot of hard work, not just in games, but in practice, every day,” he admits. “We have to set strong pillars to start growing as a team. Like I said, once the competition goes on, we will need to be patient and cold-blooded to overcome tough times and keep our chances open. We have to try to not be in a difficult situation in any elimination round.”
Valencia will face off against SLUC Nancy, Zaragoza, ratiopharm Ulm, Reyer Venice and Spirou Charleroi in their opening Group C openers.
Quotes courtesy of Javier Gancedo, Eurocup Basketball.