Exclusive interview with Roko Prkacin
2002-born prospect Roko Prkacin moved to Girona last summer. The 6'9 forward is one of the best European prospects of his generation, and Eurohopes had the chance to learn more about him.
How has the season been so far? It's been difficult to adapt to a whole new environment after being for almost all your life in the same place?
I feel great. I love the team and the organization is great. I love the city and especially the fans: it’s been nice to play in a full gym every game, around almost 5000 people. The season is going well: maybe we could have done better, but we are working to improve every day.
It’s a different style of basketball than in the ABA or the Croatian league. It’s much faster and the players are better. The competitiveness is much better too. I have to play my game, and I’m just trying to be better and better.
Which are the most significant differences you notice between playing in Croatian league or ABA league and Liga Endesa game style?
The first difference is when the ball goes out of bounds. There’s no passing to the referee, so we inbound it straight. When I came here it was hard to get used to it. The second thing is here we play much more transition and transition offense than in the ABA League. There we played much more set offenses because It’s the style of play there.
How is working with a coach like Aíto García-Reneses for a young player like you? In what does he insist the most?
I came to Girona to learn something from him and to improve as a player. We know everything about how he works and who he has helped to develop during his career. Of course, I wanted to learn too from Marc: he is also a mentor on the court. Aíto is a teacher, and Marc is a mentor. He helps me to improve my game and learn new things about team offense and defense I didn’t know.
How is working with a player like Marc Gasol? Which areas of your game do you think he benefits the most?
First, he draws the attention of the whole defense, so we all are wide open because of it. This helps a lot. Also, as a young player, It’s good to have a player who can share with me his huge experience because it helps you to grow up faster. Obviously, there are things you have to learn by yourself from the game, but for some things, it’s better to see them from somebody else.
Talking about people close to you, we also have to mention your father. He attended the game against Bilbao and you delivered great highlights. How has he influenced you in basketball?
When you have a basketball father it makes you feel that if you fall in love with basketball it’s because of him. He’s also the one who guides you: I’m talking basically about decisions. What I realized as a kid is he tries to help you not to make the same mistakes he did as a player. Occasionally, you have to filter what he tells you: I know he’s sometimes subjective and tries to help me in his perspective, but basically, he only wants your good. He always has your back. He has good connections, so if you need anything he’s there.
And one last: is playing in the NBA still a goal for you?
Well, I was there. And I came back. I wanted to go last summer, but I got injured. I was out for some months and I came back as a wholly different basketball player. It was much harder for me to play, to move, to do everything. But now I’m great. Currently, I can’t tell you anything, The last time I went I focused on the NBA too early, and I didn’t play well in the Play Off because my mind was there: a trip to America, where was I going to practice, workouts, etc. This time I’m not going to make the same mistake, but the NBA is definitely an option.