One of the great scorers in Europe ends contract. The base Nando de Colo (Sainte-Catherine, France, 31 years) will face in June the dilemma of demonstrating that it has NBA caliber, after its failed attempt in the Spurs in 2012, or continue to touch the score of points per night in Europe. While in the US the Raptors maintain their rights, Valencia Basket would have the option of scoring if the player decided to return to the Endesa League. Before, together with Chacho, he will lead a rejuvenated CSKA, always a candidate to conquer the Euroleague. Adapted to life in Moscow, where his four-year-old daughter acts as an interpreter with Russian when necessary, he attends EL PAÍS in a fluent Castilian that has not stopped practicing with his wife, the former Valencian Vero Compañ.
Question. What is your assessment of last season and of a Final Four that was played by pillars like you and Hines?
Answer. It was another very long and very hard season. It was not easy to reach the Final Four. We had some injured players and although you want to give the maximum, you do not have a rhythm. Real Madrid had many players off the track for months, but they came in form to the Final Four and played better than us. We won the VTB [la Liga], but it is not enough, the main objective was the Euroleague. In the Final Four it is only worth winning.
P. They have rejuvenated the squad with the departure of veterans like Fridzon and Khryapa. In addition to Hackett and Ukhov, they have come from the NBA Peters and Bolomboy. What equipment do they have?
R. On paper we have a better team than last year, with more players who can do more things on the track. But not only CSKA, all the clubs have very deep inroads in the Euroleague. We have more youth, players who will give everything in their first experience at this level.
P. His family lives a lot of life together in Moscow with Sergio Rodríguez's, right?
R. Yes, of course, because our women are Spanish. In addition, Vero coincided in the lower categories of the selection with Chacho, are of the same generation. We have done a lot of things off the track with the team: Halloween, Thanksgiving, parties for the children … Not only is it important for us, but also our families, to be well. It is difficult for people to understand that Russia lives very well, but we are in Moscow, not in deep Russia.
P. How do you see Real Madrid and Barcelona?
R. It has been a summer of transition for Real Madrid with the departure of Doncic to the NBA. It made an impressive season, but I do not think many things will change. They have a very complete team. Barça is not going through its best season. Seven years ago it was his moment and now it is Real Madrid. They must think about the future and not just year after year.
P. Was there a possibility that it would have ended there?
R. When I left Valencia, when I went to the Spurs, I could have signed for Barcelona. I was in contact with them, but I had Barça on one side and the Spurs on the other. I did not think much about it. When you have the opportunity to go to the best team in the world, do not let it go. I returned to Europe and in these four years I have not thought of going to another team.
P. What do you think about the removal of Navarro and Ginobili?
R. Two basketball legends go. I have been lucky enough to play with Manu and he is a very important partner for a team on and off the court. He gives everything. And I know what Navarro meant for the Spanish basketball and for his club in Europe.
P. In the NBA, the Spurs face changes with the departure of Tony Parker to Charlotte, the withdrawal of Ginobili and the transfer of Kawhi by DeRozan. How do you see them?
R. Since they began to say that the Spurs were old, they won another ring and continue competing. After 20 years in the NBA, you have to know how to retire. What surprised me most is that Parker left the Spurs. I wanted to play for Michael Jordan, his idol. It's normal for the Spurs to want to rejuvenate the team.
P. You maintain that Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the world, even though he did not count too much for him …
R. I did not have the opportunities I wanted, but I could see how he behaves with his players. It's like a father. It can be very hard when you do not respect what you want, but it is a man who cares for others. Off the track is everyone's attention. I have a lot of respect for that. Before going to Toronto, he spoke with me and explained that it was difficult for me to have more minutes because there were many players in my position.
P. Do you see yourself back to the NBA?
R. Yes, why not, everything depends on the moment, on what they can offer me. In San Antonio they thought he could help the team, but the coach had other plans. And you can not control that. Now that I know how the system works.
P. And back to Spain?
R. Yes, to live, yes. To play I do not know … we'll see. It's exactly the same as I think about the NBA. It depends on what they can offer me. I'm not only talking about money, but basketball, which is the most important thing in my life. Of course I have to think about my family, but I also want to continue improving and achieve more titles.