With the FIBA Americas Championships just about to begin, Philadelphia Sixers forward Andres Nocioni, one of the fiercest of Argentina’s Golden Generation members, has no doubts on what he wants for him and his team on the next days.
Before Argentina tips off at the FIBA Americas against Paraguay, Nocioni talked to FIBA about the team’s preparations and the pressure of playing home.
FIBA: How did you like this year’s preparations?
Nocioni: We didn’t play friendly games against top teams in the world as we did previously against Spain or Lithuania, but we faced teams we will meet during the tournament and that was useful to see where we are. The players that didn’t suffer any injury practiced really hard during the whole month.
FIBA: Do you take this comeback as something special after missing in Turkey 2010?
Nocioni: I always try to be here. This is no revenge for me after being ruled out of the World Championships due to an injury. What happened before and during Turkey is already in the past for me. That ankle injury was a bad thing in a bad time. But this is something common in our career. We are exposed to injuries.
FIBA: Do you feel any extra pressure of playing home?
Nocioni: It’s not a problem for us. We have been one of the favorite teams at many tournaments. We don’t have any extra pressure of any kind. We know what we have to do. We have always had our head on our shoulders. The important thing is our goals, which is qualifying to London Games and if we can, also win the tournament. Not qualifying would be a big disappointment for us.
FIBA: The other title-contenders have some big players missing. Is that a good or a bad thing for you?
Nocioni: Every team have their own issues. I don’t care if other teams have missing players. We think in ourselves as other will think in themselves. Every team will have to solve their problems alone.
Team Argentina is definitely one of the favorite teams to gain an outright berth to the 2012 London Olympics.
The team is loaded with NBA talent, that includes Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Houston Rockets’ Luis Scola, and former Spur Fabrico Oberto.