First of all, I have to say we are aware of the situation we are in right now. We have a lot of injuries, but are also trying to improve in every game, in every practice, to reach our goals. The most important thing is that we are together on and off the court. Baskonia is a quite an interesting melting pot this season. We have four Argentineans, a Brazilian and an Uruguayan - many South Americans, but also people from Latvia, Germany, France, Spain, Georgia and the United States! That means we joke about this a lot of times, especially on trips, when we drink together to drink "mate", the typical Uruguayan drink. Of course, the Argentineans will say it is theirs, but I know I am right. Right now, we are playing cards a lot while traveling, which has been pretty much all the time in the beginning of the season; we have only played once on our home court until now out of six games in the EuroLeague and the Spanish League. That helps time fly by. We are playing a lot of UNO right now. Why UNO? I don't know, I have never been a fan, but my teammates taught me and it is a lot of fun. The good thing about playing cards is that you talk, you laugh a bit and everything is better.
We have a lot of new players and bonding is very important; we are trying to do that as quickly as possible. We haven't had much time off lately, but already had team dinners in Madrid and Vitoria. It is important to get to know each other off the court; we already know each other on the court after playing against each other many times, but the more you know about your teammates, the better. Luckily for me – and for him, I already knew Janis Timma better than anyone else when I joined Vitoria. We never played together, but have been very good friends for many years. I guess you wonder why a guy from Uruguay who played in Spain and Turkey knows this guy from Latvia who has been playing in Russia and his country so well. I explained this in my EuroLeague blog last season; we belong to the same sports agency and work out together in the summer.
We have a very good relationship. Janis is a nice, quiet guy who will help us a lot this season once he adjusts to two new, strong competitions for him: the EuroLeague and the Spanish League. He is a hard worker and a talented player, so that always helps. You know, I met him one summer, we worked out together, and when you meet someone with your same work ethic and with similar ideas, you usually get to be friends right away. We have been following each other's careers for the last few years and now, finally, we get to play together! I am very happy about it, and we both signed for three years, so we will be teammates for a long time! Janis is a very talkative guy and gets along well with everyone. I am trying to help him as much as I can; he is in a new country, with a different language, very different from Russia. It is a different lifestyle, so I know I have to help him.
A lot has been said about me being in the EuroLeague commercial "Game On". It was a great thing to do and I had a lot of fun doing it and spending time with players from other teams. A lot of people are telling me that I did very well in this commercial, that I could be an actor, but let's make things clear: I cannot do that for a living! I like it because I am not afraid and I don’t feel any shame to do anything like that in front of a camera, and like I said, I had a lot of fun. You can tell in the final product, which was very good. I was positively surprised; I didn't expect anything like a hip-hop song this season! The EuroLeague has made great commercials in the past and several great activities to promote the competition, but went another step ahead this season. It was a great work. Of course, I have to deal with my teammates' jokes, who are killing me: "where did you buy those sunglasses?", "where did you get that jacket?". They are envious, no doubt!
It was good to talk to former teammates and new players. I had a good chance to talk to Andrew Goudelock, and also to Bryant Dunston, who played with me last season. We had time to catch up on how our respective teams were and how our summers were. I had a good time with all of them. I knew most of the players; Gigi Datome and I played in Istanbul last season and he is still with Fenerbahce. The only player I didn't know was Norris Cole, but we spoke a little bit that day. He is a very nice guy and you can tell he did great in the video. He was never afraid in front of the camera.
I have been working outside Spain for the last two years and was looking forward to coming back. Baskonia gave me the opportunity to return to Spain, opened that door for me and I am very thankful. I know that the only way I can pay them back is by playing well, winning games and keeping Baskonia up there, and this is what I came to do. We haven't had the best start, but the truth is that we cannot look for excuses - new coach, new players, many injuries, all that matters is adjusting the pieces as fast as we can because the EuroLeague won't give you a break. In a blink of an eye, we will be midway through the season. I have to say that my Mom is very happy with me being back in Spain. She lives in Barcelona and is about to move to Malaga so she is very happy about having me at least in the same country.
I heard a lot of stories about Vitoria and how cold it is in winter. We will see! It is already cold when you go to practice early in the morning and I already took my coats out just in case. I have to get used to this! Vitoria has great things and above all, is a basketball city. I love that. People recognize the players on the streets in every step of your way and you can tell they breathe basketball. Without any doubt, basketball is more important than football. Even though we have been travelling a lot, I already tried a good "chuleton" and very good tapas. If you come to Vitoria, don't forget to ask about "Pintxo Pote", it is very interesting, you will see!