UDINE. Relaunch of the Apu Od Wild West. Three days after the burning disappointment of the Serie A1 train lost at the Verona station, president Alessandro Pedone puts his face on it. And the ideas. Relaunch of the “Serie A1 in Udine” project in three steps: confirmation of coach Matteo Boniciolli, a rich proposal for the renewal of playmaker Alessandro Cappelletti, so as to make him the franchise man, and confirmation of the block of young players.
President, let’s start with the final: the team was unrecognizable. What did he feel?
“It wasn’t the one admired all season. I tried to motivate the guys from the first to the last moment of the series, the last time three hours before Race 4. All the staff did the impossible ».
What mistake would he not make again?
«Not strengthening ourselves further before the play-offs with a shooting wing as we did last year. We then commonly chose the “insurance guy” Manuel Suarez ».
Who has disappointed you?
“I don’t point the finger at anyone, it’s not part of our way of being. We have always won thanks to the strength of the group and also the defeat is for the group as a whole. It was clear that in the end the whole team gasped and was in confusion, unfortunately no one excluded ».
What is your diagnosis of the debacle?
«The injuries of 4 players (Mussini shoulder, Esposito ankle, Italian ankle, Lacey quadriceps) during the quarterfinals against San Severo knocked us out. We therefore had to tighten the rotations on the one hand by making pots and lids with the same people who worked overtime to wait for the return of the injured, on the other hand to speed up the return of the latter.
We arrived in the final with a precarious athletic condition and this was decisive. Let’s not forget that we practically played the series without Americans, at least 100% ».
How will the Apu project start again?
«The Project does not need to restart, it is alive and well and simply continues as it always has, indeed stronger than before. Every year we have raised the bar and the results of the last two seasons are proof of this ».
What do you feel like saying to the fans?
«They have been extraordinary in supporting the team throughout the season. From Orzinuovi to Trapani, from Roseto to Verona, to the sold out with Cantù and during all the play-offs at Carnera.
We are waiting for the official numbers from the League but I believe that, despite a Carnera that contains only 3,500 spectators at the most, we will certainly be the first Italian audience in the category by absolute number ».
Where do you find the energy, without returns of any kind, to invest all this money in basketball?
«The passion, the taste of competition, fair play, respect for the result of the field: the human return in terms of enthusiasm and energy that basketball gives is extraordinary.
The enthusiasm of an entire city that immerses itself and identifies with our sports project, even suffering as it does now, is the greatest satisfaction. Moreover, I am of the opinion that on my part and the hundreds of sponsor companies, from the smallest to the largest, it is a way to give something back to our city and our land that has given us so much in other words. Every patronage is born from this ».
There is an air of derby, not with Trieste: what does it mean to Cividale fans?
«In our first year of A2 we played in Cividale which welcomed us with great affection and enthusiasm, rekindling the fuse of basketball passion there too, always filling the sports hall: there are many Juventus ducal fans who still follow us at Carnera.
Our project embraces a very wide territory that goes from Pordenone to Gorizia, both with the first team and with the youth teams through the Apu Young Stars project, which now gathers a thousand young people. Then having a trip 15 km from home will not only make you smile … it also saves you money ».
Let’s get back to the trouble: why wasn’t an alternative to the unreliable Walters sought? Who had the last decision?
“The Walters theme is really a puzzle: did it really need to be changed? Or was it first necessary to try to enhance its merits, minimizing its defects? Here, we have moved in the latter direction.
The player is unstoppable, devastating for the category, which perhaps, however, in hindsight does not suit him. Too many “long fakes”, too little tonnage under the basket, too many referee protections towards the underserved.
Brandon would be perfect in the A1 series. What’s more, he’s a very nice guy with a heart of gold, if he works on his own emotional management, that’s it. “
Are there any possibilities to keep play Cappelletti?
«I respect Alessandro very much as an athlete and as a man. I am sure that this year he has achieved a further upgrade in his professional maturity, so much so that he has won the title of best player in the league.
If he decides to accept my offer to stay, which I sent him yesterday, know that he will be at the center of the construction of the project, if he leaves us for the A1 series we will accept his decision conscious of having entered his heart and who knows tomorrow. I would stay in Udine in his place … ».
Will coach Boniciolli change?
«I have been doing business for thirty years, Matteo is my managing director of the team and he must be evaluated as such.
You would chase an ad who in 24 months, after the diaspora that left me completely alone, wins about ninety matches between pre-season and championship, goes to the championship final twice in a row, to the cup final twice in a row, winning one (never won in the history of the city), is elected best coach of the year, blows up Esposito then called up for the Under 23 national team, leads Cappelletti to the title of MVP? Not me”.
Will a general manager arrive or is the “Martelossi formula” valid?
«Alberto Martelossi is our Sporting Director. We have a very solid organizational structure at company and club level, frankly we don’t have any need to hire a GM now. Rather we will ask Alberto to also engage in the youth sector».
Antonutti chapter. The captain appeared gasping …
«The captain is a fundamental element of this team and, if he wants to, he will continue to be so also next season. Michele is our DNA ».
For the Americans, the idea is to change the format with a guard and a small forward, which is almost always the winning one?
«Last year Parks with Napoli and this year Johnson with Verona made the difference in the wing sector. It is clear that that role is now fundamental for the category, we need to reflect ».
With “Cappe” Esposito, Mussini, Nobile, Pellegrino can they be a solid base from which to start again?
«Yes, but not only. We have already thrown ourselves headlong back into the market but we must not throw the baby away with the bathwater.
Although embittered, let us never forget that this team dominated the champion, but the injuries and once again the mocking fate have played us hopefully one last bad joke ».
So what grade do you give to your parents’ season?
“10 would have been the perfect number in case of promotion. In any case, I give my team a well-deserved 9 ».