“Although he is a bit shy at first, he likes to talk,” say the communication managers of Joventut Badalona. And well Pau Ribas (Barcelona; 35 years old) does it, who chose to be a leader in Penya rather than a secondary actor in Barcelona because after a long career with triumphs in all clubs, including World and European champion with the selection, had earned the right to be able to decide. On Wednesday the 8th, in Badalona, they will face Barça and one of their former teammates in the third game of the Endesa League playoffs semifinal series (9pm CEST). #Let’s go), which is tied for a victory.
Ask. Is Joventut still the same club you knew when you started playing when you were five years old?
Response. It maintains the same essence. Children and parents every afternoon, and on weekends, everyone to see Penya, a club with many players trained here, with great communion with the people because the players here are also Penya fans. In Badalona everyone plays basketball sooner or later. My father (Jordi) played here; my mother, at school. And soon they signed me up with class friends.
P. Was it already making a difference then?
R. My parents tell me yes. It is seen that at the beginning, when I scored a basket, the other parents applauded and encouraged me. And the same with the second, the third… But then they asked him to pass the ball. As a child you don’t see much further.
P. Over the years, don’t you get tired of not having a free weekend?
R. I have missed many things. Going out partying, not studying for a degree, not living in a student flat, not going on Erasmus… We would all like to have four lives. But I’m lucky that I really like basketball, so that’s secondary. And my friends would also have liked to live my experiences. So for me it is a responsibility to take advantage and enjoy this. And when I saw that I didn’t enjoy it so much, being at Barcelona, I decided to change. It happened during the pandemic because I had time to think. And I realized that after so many years, I had a super beautiful career and I didn’t deserve not to enjoy the end. In addition, I have already competed against the best and played in the best championships.
P. Perhaps the difference is that before you always had the need to win, right?
R. That exists at Barcelona and you can feel the tension in training, games, the fans, the press… But when you go to a team like that, you know what you’ll find. Although here I am happy because we are beginning to have that responsibility. And there have been times when the result has not been given and there have been disappointments. I wanted us to have the requirement to win. Basketball without pressure or tension would be another sport.
P. So you’re enjoying yourself?
R. Very much. I feel good physically and mentally. At ease with what’s around me: my family, friends… They’re all from here and they’re happy that I’m playing in Badalona. It’s hard to give up something like that.
P. But would you accept that a young man took minutes away from you?
R. I hope it happens. That will mean we are in good hands. I am here to help the team win. And I know that my responsibility will change because I will have more and more problems to compete, so I will love that a young man takes minutes from me. But I won’t make it easy for you; it is part of the process.
P. Are young people now like you were in your time?
R. No, but the changing rooms have changed, not only the youngsters. Before, teams were more of a team. Now there are a lot of players from abroad with different sensitivities, cultures… Everything is a little more individualized because society has also changed. I miss changing rooms being more familiar. Although in Joventut we get together a lot. It’s not as exaggerated as in the national team, where you spend the holidays with your friends to win one tournament after another because communion makes the difference, but it shows that many of us are from here.
P. What do they play at Joventut?
R. On the cards, on the mobile with Among Us… It’s fun to compete, although Albert Ventura doesn’t know how to lose very well…
P. Now it’s about competing against Barça. Can it be removed?
R. They are made to win, they are the favourites, they have more talent, but many things happen on the track and we will see who is better. Talent doesn’t always win. But yes, it is a very good team in all lines. Defensively, they may be the best team in Europe. So we will have to adapt to his physique, his accuracy, his way of playing tactics because they make you work a lot in defense, many seconds, and you arrive tired to attack. It’s complicated, but you have to be confident and fearless.
P. Are you worried about Mirotic?
R. Our problem is that we have Brodziansky injured, which is a big problem, and there we go lame. But if we are capable of defending well with the whole team involved… Although he is the player who dominates the most in Europe. But at Barça they are all very strong; they are international, champions of a thousand things… We will have to question them.
P. Despite being and playing for La Penya, Barça’s historic rival, do you still care for Barcelona?
R. Yes, I was five years. I know the club, a lot of people… When I was little, it was totally different, but the experience made me change that thought a bit. Although I am very fond of many people on the track, the competitive animal has to come out yes or yes. You also enjoy beating your friends and former teammates.
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