Clint Capela, Elan Chalon sur Saone
|By winning three of its last four games, Elan Chalon-sur-Saone has earned a chance, going into the final week of the regular season, to advance to the Last 32 from difficult Group B. Chalon held off last year's runner-up, Bilbao Basket, 81-79 in Round 9 to stay alive in the competition. One of the team's main pillars has been forward Clint Capela who, at age 19, is living up to his great potential. Despite stepping on court less than 20 minutes per night, Capela leads Chalon in performance index rating (13.6 per game) and blocks (1 bpg.) while also averaging 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds. Capela ranks second in the 2013-14 Eurocup in field goal percentage (71%) and is eighth in per-minute rebounding. In other words, Capela may still be a developing player, but he is already a threat for any opponent. Capela stays humble even when he thanks his team for having valuable playing time at such a young age in the Eurocup, as he told Eurocupbasketball.com interview. "It is a privilege, for sure, but I try not to think too much about it. I am glad for that and that helps me to focus on my goal, which is trying to get better," Capela said. "I have to play with intensity, help my team, grab rebounds... but I am not thinking about it, just on helping my team as much as I can."
Hello, Clint. Chalon is playing much better in the last month. What changed in the team to start winning so much?
"First of all, we switched coaches and the change was good for us. We have focused on defense and that allowed us to improve on offense. That is what I think has helped us to improve in the Eurocup and the French championship."
Congratulations for beating Bilbao Basket. You never gave up and that win kept Chalon alive in the competition. Which were the keys to it?
"First of all, I think it was defense what allowed us to win the game. Bilbao has great players like Alex Mumbru and Raul Lopez. We were focused on defense and tried to play with more intensity than they did. We managed to be patient on offense, finding good shots, so it was a little bit of everything."
Other than focusing on defense, how did new head coach Jean-Denys Choulet change the team?
"He didn't change a lot but started to do different things on defense. We told us to be ready to push the ball and run the break. Pass the ball and be ready to run the break."
Eventually, he put you in the starting five, giving you more playing time. How confident do you feel in Chalon's system?
"I am very confident now. He has sometimes put me in the starting five, which gives a lot of confidence to a young player like me. When I get on the floor, I know that I can play - grab some rebound, block shots and be important for this team. That's because of the confidence our coach gives me."
Few players are seeing so much Eurocup playing time at age 19. Do you feel privileged to have the chance to compete at this level?
"It is a privilege, for sure, but I try not to think too much about it. I am glad for that and that helps me to focus on my goal, which is trying to get better. I have to play with intensity, help my team, grab rebounds... but I am not thinking about it - just on helping my team as much as I can."
You are one of the more effective players in the competition with a 71% two-point shooting. What's the secret?
"Well, I have good teammates! (laughs) They always give me the ball in good position. I try to be in the right place to score baskets. I have to thank my teammates for that, for finding me when I am in the right place on the court. I dunk a lot, too. Alley-oop dunks and fastbreak baskets - that also helps!"
You are already one of the most important players in the team. Where do you think you need to improve is order to get even better?
"I have to start making mid-range shots from the perimeter. I have to improve that and be more aggressive on the court, which will allow me to get better. So that's it for me: mid-range shots and being more aggressive on the boards and running the fastbreak."
Gravelines made it to the Last 32, Le Mans, Asvel and Chalon have chances to advance in a year in which France has two Euroleague teams. How has French basketball improved so much lately?
"I think it is because of the French national team's win at the EuroBasket. Every time we played in Europe, we were not confident. Now we are confident and now we can do a lot of good things in the Euroleague and the Eurocup. We play more intensity and now we have a chance to compete. When French teams now play in the Euroleague or the Eurocup, we know we can beat any team now."
It is your first Eurocup season. How do you find the competition and how do you like playing it?
"Yes, it is my first Eurocup season and it is a new experience. I played the Euroleague last season, and did well in the only game I played a lot, so I knew I could do well in the Eurocup. It is hard to play - I have to stay focused and do what our coach say. I like the competition a lot - there are good teams, good players and I am happy to be part of it."
Next game vs Cedevita. You worked hard to get an opportunity to advance. How much is the team looking forward to this game?
"We still have chances to advance and will fight for it. We will go over there to win the game and believe in our chances. We will play as hard as possible and know this is our last chance, so we have to do our best to try to advance."
Monday, December 16, 2013