Planeta ACB‘s Borja Tovar interviewed Nikos Pappas, one of the greatest hopes of Greek basketball, some days ago and was kind enough to allow us translate the interview to English and present it.
B.T.: After being named “Rookie of the Year” last year with Kolossos, what are your personal targets for the 2nd season?
N.P.: The target is the same as last season. To get playing time, gain experience and get ready to go and play in ACB next season.
B.T.: The team looks to have a stronger roster than last season, mainly due to the signing of Pat Calathes, while the club recently added Jurica Golemac as well. What is the team’s target this season?
N.P.: Kolossos is not a very popular club, nontheless the past two seasons were successful (7th and 6th position). This means we want to enter the play-offs again and currently being in 3rd position makes us want to continue like this.
B.T: The Greek League hasn’t started in the greatest of the fashions. Problems between the players and the League forced the players go on strike. How does a young player like you feel in such situations?
N.P.: Indeed, the situation is not good and there are many problems and I don’t like that at all. The future of Greek basketball will be difficult for Greek players, so I’m happy to have a contract with Bilbao, where I want to play for many years.
B.T.: What do you think about players such as Ioannis Bouroussis, who although being vice-president of PSAK (Players’ Union) ignored the strike and played without consideration of his colleagues from the smaller and poorer clubs?
N.P.: I definitely did not like that Bouroussis played, ignoring the strike, although he had said and promised to do otherwise. Most of the players did go on strike, ignoring the negative consequences it would cause between them and their clubs. They risked everything for a better future for Greek basketball. The players of Panathinaikos and Olympiacos didn’t share our worries and decided to break the strike. Of course the clubs had a big role in this, but the players must stick together if we want to change some things.
B.T.: For those who don’t know you, can you define yourself as a player? What are you main attributes and in which aspects do you feel you can improve?
N.P.: I would rather not talk about myself, I prefer you watch me on court but generally speaking I think that my best move in offense is to drive inside after a pick and roll situation and then read the game. I have to improve a lot in the defensive end.
B.T.: We know that you play both the guard positions but which one is your “natural” one? Which one are you most comfortable with?
N.P.: I like playing both positions. Sometimes I prefer SG position because I feel greater freedom and less pressure. But I also like the PG position too since I get the ball in my hands for a long time and get to decided how the team attacks.
B.T.: You were one of the Top3, if not the best, players in the Eurobasket U20 tournament last summer where we saw players like Josep Franch and Nikola Mirotic, who are already playing in ACB, or your teammate Costas Papanikolaou who has a big role in Olympiacos. Did you feel ready for the jump to ACB this summer or did you feel it would be best for you to play in Greece for another season?
N.P.: I have played against many players who are now playing in ACB, there isn’t much difference. I feel ready to play in ACB and I hope to play there next season.
B.T.: You’ve been very active last summer. After playing in Eurobasket U20 you joined the senior Greek NT to prepare for the World Championship but you didn’t make the cut as you’re still a developing young player. Could you tell us some things about the experience? How did training and playing with the best Greek players help you develop your game?
N.P.: It was an amazing experience. The guys helped me a lot and gave me a great deal of information. It’s great to practice with your idols and I felt a bit strange because of that. I hope I get called to the preparation next summer too, and show more things that I did last summer.
B.T.: Greek NT seems to be going through a transition. Dimitris Diamantidis decided to retire while Teo Papaloukas hasn’t played for the past two years. Do you think you will be ready to play in Eurobasket 2011?
N.P.: I think that if you don’t play on high level, you will never know. If I am given the chance to play for the National Team it would mean I am being trusted and believed in, so I will try to be ready to show them that I can be part of this team.
B.T.: Last summer, after leaving Greek NT, you went to Bilbao for a week. What plans does Fotis Katsikaris have in mind for you? Did he show interest in adding you to the squad in the near future? What does he want from you this season?
N.P.: I want to think that Fotis believes in me (laughs). We talked last sumemr and he told me wants me to play hard games in the Greek League this season in order to improve parts of my game, mainly defense, and next season go to Bilbao, ready to play…
B.T.: You signed your contract more than two years ago, with a new team, in a foreign country and the it looked as if you would need quite some time to adapt when you joined the team squad. But now, when you join the team, you will, potentially, have two Greek teammates (Vassileaidis and Mavroeidis) and a Greek coach (Katsikaris). Do you feel this will help you fit in easier?
N.P.: Of course when I went to Spain it was difficult for me, but the situation helped me a lot. It should be better now, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. I will not go to Bilbao for holidays, I will go to play basketball and I must work hard.
B.T.: Many Greek players are afraid of leaving Greece to play professional basketball elsewhere but it looks as if this is not true in your case as you signed your first contract in Spain at the age of 18. Are you excited and determined to make it in ACB or will you return to Greece, given the chance to play for a Top Greek Club?
N.P.: I decided to sign in Spain because I believe ACB is the best league in Europe and all the information I gathered regarding Bilbao were positive. I wasn’t afraid to leave Greece because I had decided to play basketball for a living and Spain was the best option for me at the time.
B.T.: Taking the current season into account, you have already spent 3 out of your 5 seasons contract with Bilbao Basket. Do you think you will finally manage to play for them next season?
N.P.: It is strange that his is my 3rd year as a Bilbao player and I have yet to play a single game for the team. Three years ago some people from Bilbao trusted me and offered me a very good contract. So I want to play for them and I hope to be able to do so next season.
SHORT QUESTIONS/FAST ANSWERS:
ACB: European NBA
NBA: Just a dream
Euroleague: In 2-3 years with Bilbao Basket
Olympiacos/Panathinaikos: Only Panathinaikos
Barcelona/Real Madrid: No comment
Bilbao Basket: Next season
Kostas Papanikolaou: Sign him in Bilbao
Idol: Dimitris Diamantidis
Best player to have played against: John Wall
NBA team: Portland Trailblazers