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13.11.2009 12:26

Mickeal: “Caja Laboral raise their game against Barça”

Berta Brau

Pete Mickeal knows first what to expect from Regal Barça's next opponents Caja Laboral Baskonia and believes that Brazilian Tiago Splitter will be the one to watch out for.

This weekend the Palau plays host to one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the season and the American forward knows all about the team, formerly known as TAU Ceramica, having spent the last two season playing for them in Vitoria.

You have said that you made the right choice to join Barça. Why was that as Baskonia have won so many trophies?

2009-08-21_ENTRENAMIENTO_REGAL_FCB_014.JPG"It was not a difficult decision. I play for Baskonia for two years and achieved great success, two Super Cups, a Copa del Rey, one ACB Liga title and we reached the Final Four. I think that in two seasons that is a good record as broke various records, like losing only four games in a regular season. They were two very good year and helped me establish myself in this league but as soon as I arrived at Barça I wanted to continue winning and to achieve even more here than I did with Baskonia."

You have been with Barcelona for almost three months, how are things going?

"It has been very easy to adapt to the city because it is an easy place to fit in to. On the other hand, the fact that it is a tourist city makes things more comfortable and the Catalans are also kind people so that made me feel at home. On the court things have also gone well. Xavi Pascual has been good, very good, and it is a pleasure to work with him and with everyone here at the club."

When you played for Baskonia in the Palau did you ever feel you should play here?

GYI0058888048.jpg"It is amusing because I have played here so many times and when I heard the Barça hymn I always felt like I somehow belonged. Not just last year, ubt also two years ago I wanted to play here, not just for the team but also the city, the fans and the Palau. I do not know why, but I have always felt like that. Now it is no longer a dream and I want to take advantage of my chance."

Are you pleased with the way Barça are playing?

"The truth is that I have never been completely satisfied with any game I have ever played in my life. None. I am very hard on myself, moreso than any coach could be. Maybe one day I will manage a complete game and be satisfied, but up until now I have not because there have always been area to improve upon. My aim now is to keep improving."

Next up is a game than many people are relishing and will be particularly special for you. Where do you think Baskonia are strongest?

GYI0058888147.jpg"Tiago Splitter. Everything start through him. Last year they also had Pablo Prigioni, who is now doing well with Real Madrid, but Tiago is my preferred player. He i young, tough and intelligent and it is very difficult to play against him. In one against one he is difficult to mark and in the team play he passes very well. I think he is key to their team. I am sure that he will be well prepared because he likes playing Barça."

What are their weak points?

"I would love to know myself! I know something that can help us because I know the mentality and the philosophy of the coach, things that could benefit us and myself in this type of game. They prepare very well and will be completely focussed because the team raises its game against Barcelona. I do not know how to sum up what their weaknesses maybe, but I know that we are strong so maybe we can use that to find a weakness. Barça can be the weakness of Baskonia."

What differences are there between the club from the inside?

0910_J5_EST-BAR_x27x.JPG"Over the past two years I thought that Barça had more talent while Baskonia were stronger. Barça could run better and move better, but we were still stronger and that idea is still with the Baskonia players. I also though that until I arrived here. The key is the way that they feel as they have the same fitness and the mentality to work hard thanks to the coach."

You wrote in your blog that Xavi Pascual eliminates selfishness from players. What did you mean?

"On many occasions there has been the chance to continue playing but at the same time, in a team with so many good players, there is the choice of bringing in a couple of others. If you look at the squad you see ten or eleven players, maybe even 12 with no injuries, who can all play. I have never been in a team where there are so many player capable of all playing so much and you have to not be selfish, There are times when you need a little extra confidence and that comes when a team-mate passes you the ball and you can shoot and other times when you can help your team-mates."
Mickeal: “Caja Laboral raise their game against Barça”

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Three names
What do you think of Juan Carlos Navarro?

"Last year Igor Rakocevic was always compared with Navarro and it was thought that he was the better player or the other way round. There was a great debate. From what I saw of Juan Carlos last year and what I have seen of him this year I know that he is a humble person and that he can do a lot more than just score points. He can help the team a great deal, help the team to win. There is a difference between shooting each time and helping the team to win. He knows how to do that."

Despite his young age you have been a fan of Ricky Rubio for some time

"He is my rock star. I am happy to have the chance to play with him and that he did not go to the NBA: When we travel the fans love him. He is really humble and I enjoy playing with him because he is young and I am older and at times I can pass on some advice, but he is mature for his age. He is a pleasure to play with and to watch grow."

How would you describe Xavi Pascual's work?

"One thing that stands out is the atmosphere that he creates, which is fundamental for me and is pleasing to be able to work in such an atmosphere. it does not matter how tired we are because we always work hard because of the atmosphere. It is difficult to coach a team with so many players but he knows how to. He is doing a great job.

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