Да не буде забуне, заслуге за превод овог текста (и текста из L'Équipe са француског на енглески) има моја другарица која је иначе Францускиња и годинама навијач Партизана. Надам се да ће после оваквих текстова, којих има све више у француским медијима (пре свега због Леа тренутно), Партизан придобити још навијача из Француске.Westermann: "Another World"
It has now been four months since Leo Westermann left Asvel to join Partizan. A choice that the French leader (20 years old, 1.96 m) doesn’t regret. Before the clash between Belgrade and Barcelona in Euroleague, the French player immerses us into his life in Serbia, where he discovered "fanaticism to the extreme."
-Leo, how do you feel in Belgrade, a little more than four months after your arrival?
Everything is going well for me. I didn’t know Belgrade before coming but it is a pleasant city to live in, though, between training and matches, I don’t have much time for sightseeing ... Here we train really a lot so the rest of the time, I am often at home and I am resting.
-And on the court, how is it going with Partizan, which is a big European basketball team?
Very good as well. I came to know all this excitement around basketball here and to play Euroleague, where we’re still running for Top 16 (Partizan is fifth of its group with two wins in eight matches). Thursday we will play Barcelona. This is a big team but we lost only by three points there (82-85) and at home, we know that everything is possible. After that, we go to Bamberg, where we will have to get a good result no matter what. We have our chances. And we are second in the championship so I couldn’t expect better. Up to this point, the results are very positive.
-What is so special and so destabilizing for opponents in Belgrade?
Here it’s really another world. It is hard to describe. I don’t think there is such fervor elsewhere in Europe or in the world. Around the club, it's fanaticism to the extreme. It's really impressive. Here for example, when we will play against Barcelona, it will be total madness. The arena is full all the time, people are standing throughout the match. It is exceptional to play in an atmosphere like that. It carries you. You can always watch videos on YouTube and get an idea of what it is, but as long as you didn’t live it, you cannot know. It's just amazing!
-You’re only twenty. Did this context intimidate you at first?
No, I came for that. I knew by signing Partizan that I would have more pressure than in previous years, that expectations would be more important. It makes you grow faster as a player but also as a man, playing in front of all those fans who encourage you.
-Which place has basketball over football, in Serbia and more precisely in Belgrade?
Serbia is a country of football, but also basketball and here people don’t support a sport. They support a club. And as there is the forever enemy, Red Star, in the same city, it creates even more fanaticism. It is worse than the PSG-OM rivalry. I don’t even know if you can compare it to a derby between the two Manchester or Milan since hatred between the two teams is huge ...
-In Euroleague, you played some good matches against Besiktas, CSKA and Barcelona. Is this a sign that you have already taken your game to a new level?
I grow up every day playing in Euroleague. I benefit from ‘Serbian school’, one of the world's most famous and advises from a great coach. I still have a problem with regularity, it is one of my biggest problems. But it is often the case with young players.
-What is your relationship with the club coach, Dusko Vujosevic, which probably expect a lot from you as a playmaker?
Player maker ... and foreigner! It’s going very well with him. Even if he doesn’t speak English, there is a translator and basketball terms often come back so I got used to hear Serbian all day and I understand what he wants. Vujosevic, before being a coach, is a personality. When he enters the arena, everybody stands up. He's like a Roman emperor. He really is a god here, he has every right and does what he wants. I don’t know if there is such passion elsewhere for a coach. He has proven in recent years that he was the best coach in Europe. It's great to play for him.
-Many people didn’t understand why you and Kim Tillie left Villeurbanne. Do you regret anything?
I have read many articles about Asvel, who was disappointed with my departure. I understand it, they gave me a lot of responsibility, they made me grow and I thank them for that. But it was my dream to play for Partizan, even more when you're playmaker in Euroleague. When an offer like that happens, it's really hard to refuse. My contract in Asvel was also made in a way that I could leave the club so now it’s done. I think that if I didn’t go to Belgrade, I would have stayed in Villeurbanne where I felt good. With Pierre Vincent, it went well. It is a career choice. I understand, but they also need to understand me. I want to stay in good terms with them.
-You signed three years in Partizan, where Euroleague, especially if you reach Top 16, could be a good springboard to NBA. Do you think you can make it to the next draft?
NBA is very attractive, that's for sure. I think because it is the league where the best players are and if you want to compete against the best in the world, you need to be there. But for the draft, I don’t know. It's too early to talk about it and to leave. For the moment, we are in the middle of the season and a lot can happen. Besides, I am not obsessed with NBA. I am very "European basketball" and I think I will stay next season at Partizan.
-You briefly were in French team last summer in preparation for the OG. Is your goal Euro 2013, knowing that Vincent Collet should give a chance to young people?
I hope to be there. This is one of my goals this season. We know that behind Tony (Parker), there will be not a lot of playing time and there are a lot of candidates including Antoine Diot, Andrew Thomas Albciy or Heurtel, but I'd really like to join. The French team, when you have’ tasted’ it once ... I understand why guys even after playing one hundred matches in NBA want to come back every summer. The atmosphere is great. This is unique to play for the French flag.
Project Spurs - A San Antonio Spurs Blog and PodcastPartizan forward Davis Bertans (traded to the San Antonio Spurs during the 2011 NBA Draft) is currently on the road to recovery after suffering a right knee ACL tear during the Serbian championship game, which required surgery. Fast forward to today and he is in good spirits and is looking to come back a "beast" as he put it once he is back on the court.