Belinelli couldn't pass on the Spurs
I guess it was a big deal for you to sign as a free agent early in the summer to be able to focus on the Italian National Team.
Marco Belinelli: I really care about the National Team. It's very important for us to be a part of this group, to play with the Italian jersey. My mentality was to be ready to play with the National Team. I spoke after the season with coach Simone [Pianigiani] and the Italian organization and I told them to wait. My first focus was to find a good contract with an NBA team, and then I would be part of this team. I'm really happy right now to be here playing a tournament like the European championship.
Is this the best Italian team you've ever played with?
MB: Yes. Like a group? Yes. We really play together, we spend time off the court... I'm really happy and very proud of this team.
How does that work? You're missing big names and you're better as a team.
MB: We started the training camp with Andrea [Bargnani] but he had problems with his stomach, the flu... and then we lost a lot of players like Angelo Gigli... But at the same time when you play a competition like this, in one month, you just play with the guys you have and you don't care about the guys that are not here. We want to win and that's it.
Why the Spurs?
MB: Because I think it's one of the best teams or maybe the best team in the NBA, they have a great organization, a great coach. I will improve my game and try to help the team to win the championship.
How was their pitch?
MB: This summer a lot of teams called me to sign a contract with them. But at the same time when a team like San Antonio and a coach like Gregg Popovich call you, and they want you so bad on their team, then you want to win the championship with them. The money was good, it's a two-year deal, but at the same time it was the best team to improve my game and try to win the title.
Did you personally talked with Popovich before signing?
MB: I talked with Popovich on the phone. I talked with Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, RC Buford here... I was happy to see them here at the Eurobasket.
You're basically taking Gary Neal's spot on the team. What do you think you can bring to the table that he didn't?
MB: I don't know. I'll just try to be the player that I am, help the team, score the ball, play good defense, play the pick-and-roll... I'll do everything to improve my game and try to win.
This is your fifth NBA team in six years. I guess you're looking for a little bit of stability now.
MB: That's true. In the NBA you never know. It's a different world, but right now I'm so happy to be part of the San Antonio Spurs organization.
Which move did you dislike the most?
MB: I think every year when I moved was important for me: Golden State, Toronto, Chicago... For me, it made me a better person, with a better mentality. For me, the most important year was the first year in New Orleans, then Chicago. The year before, Toronto and Golden State, it was OK but it was very difficult for me. But they helped me a lot for my confidence and everything.
Link to article: HoopsHype - Belinelli couldn't pass on the Spurs
I'm excited about what Bellinelli can bring, but it's tough to lose Gary Neal.
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