Read below Vladimir Stankovic speaking to Maurizio Gherardini, Vice President of Toronto Raptors at the Hospitalet 2012 Tournament.
Maurizio Gherardini, officially is “senior vice-president” of Toronto Raptors. However “of the record”, he is responsible for a certain “Europeanisation” of the Raptors, bringing many signings from Europe to the team. Gherardini has been 6 years in this position and in these 6 seasons he has not missed any Hospitalet tournament although he says the first time he came here was 15 years ago, when I (Vladimir Stankovic) was General Manager of Benetton Treviso.
This “senior” means that I am old, Maurizio Gherardini jokes at the beginning of the interview for the tournament website, warning that due to the rules of the NBA, he cannot talk about players.
About the Hospitalet tournament, its tradition and importance in junior basketball in Europe, Gheradini says “I think it is something unique in Europe. It’s a wonderful tournament, an event required for everyone who follows junior basketball. A look at the history books of the tournament, with the championship teams and players that have been proclaimed MVP, says it all for itself.”
VS: The tournament is now part of the classification system for Euroleague. What do you think of this system, prior to Final 8 during the Final Four?
GM: It seems a very successful system. It was a great idea that needed the hard work of all people and organizations involved, but the result is wonderful. The only thing I would suggest is to unify the rules in all tournaments. I think we have the fairest rules here in Hospitalet: semi-finals with crosses. Teams in Hospitalet, say, have the right to play a game poorly, maybe due to getting up at 7 am or having bad luck. In other tournaments, good teams can drop a point easily due to bad luck, injury to a player …
VS: After 6 years in the NBA, how would you compare the system for teaching basketball in the U.S. and Europe?
GM: If I have to say all in one sentence, I would say that in America you train less and play more, the opposite of Europe. There are differences between schools, training ideas from the players and working systems, but the basic thing is this: in Europe more time is spent on training, especially at the individual level, and less time on playing. At a junior level, the Europeans have an advantage.
VS: What are the best systems in Europe?
GM: Lithuania, Spain and Serbia. There are clear ideas and systems in place. Not coincidentally, these countries dominate at junior level.
VS: Although you cannot talk about specific names, are there any interesting players this year?
GM: Sure, they have never lacked talent in Hospitalet. The problem is that many are lost in the transition from junior to first team for various reasons. You cannot expect every talented 17 or 18 year old player to become a star by age of 20 or 22. Everything depends on the work, will and determination of the individual player. Talent helps a lot, but to become a true basketball player is it is not enough.
Photo courtesy of Jordi Montraveta