The perfect weapon if you will, Erazem Lorbek was considered at times as one of the best big-men in the old continent in an era that was known for its gladiators. It comes as no surprise due to his great working ethic, that Jordi Prat Pare’ of L’Esportiudecatalunia considers him “one of the best players to play for Barcelona in the last decade”.
“For a player of his height (2.08m) he never fixed himself to a specific position,” says Eli Shvidler of SportExpress. “He always made the adjustments so that he could fit himself to the team’s needs. That was extremely evident in his tenure with Barcelona, whereas roster changes were made he always stayed as a great part of the team’s ensemble”.
A knee injury kept him inactive for the last two years and now in an exclusive interview with Team Scout, Erazem Lorbek breaks the silence and declares He Is Back!!!
If you had to summarize your career so far until the 2013-14 season, what would be the best coach you played for, teammates you’ve played with, gym’s you’ve visited, and best moment of your career?
“The best moment of my career was without a doubt winning the Euroleague. It’s something that’s very hard to achieve and winning that title was the result of the hard work we’ve put in that great season. I liked all the coaches that I had and also the teammates which I played alongside. They were all great and it’s hard for me to pin point just one. All the gyms that we went and played in were special. It was fun because you get to travel to different countries, to play against great teams in different atmospheres, and the fans were great. To them, basketball is very special and important. They care a lot about their teams and that made it so much fun and competitive”.
In 2014 Barcelona had a good season, however the season didn’t end well for you because of the injury you sustained. What effect did that have on you?
“We won the domestic championship (Liga ACB) and we made it to the Euroleague final four so it was a good season. Injuries are a part of the game, and the injury that I had bothered me during the season to the point where it kept me from playing the way I was used to. And as soon as the season ended I took the time off to refresh. Afterwards, I started my recovery which was a process because I had to rebuild my body to the point where it will suit me and my style of the game. I wanted to be able to play my all-around game again without any limitations, like the ones that I’ve experienced two years ago.”
You’ve had a long rehabilitation. Can you walk us through that process? Where there thoughts of retirement?
“The road to recovery was not easy but thoughts of retirement never crossed my mind. As soon as the season ended I started thinking of possible solutions to the situation at hand since I wanted my comeback to be a successful one. All that was left was a matter of readjusting. During my time off the courts I was working very hard and luckily I had the right people around me who supported me. Saša Vogrin and his staff closely monitored my recovery and they made sure that I would be able to play my style of the game the same way I did prior to my injury.”
Did you expect to be out for so long?
“Staying out for two years was definitely not something that I expected, but at the same time I wanted to make sure that I’m 100 percent ready to return. As time went by and I saw all the things that I needed to improve in my game, aspects that I didn’t have time to work on before, and because of that it seemed like the right decision to prepare the best way that I can so that I would become a better athlete and a better professional basketball player.”
The announcement of you joining the summer league created a lot of hype. How was your experience in the summer league?
“After I was ready to get back on the court, the opportunity to play in the summer league arose, and we said “let’s go for it, it will be something new”. At that moment it was a step in the right direction. I’ve had a great experience in the summer league, it gave me the chance to play in a different style alongside the future stars and I learned new things that would help me. Just being out there on the court again made it even better since it gave me hope and something to look forward to, it was just perfect.”
Considering the nature of the injury you’ve had, do you have any limitations and if so how do you intend to adjust?
“I don’t think that I will have any problem or limitation, I’m ready to get back to action, I can practice hard as much as possible, and it will be only better. I will be the same player I was if not even better.”
During your time off the court, the game has changed a bit, what’s your perception of it and how do you see yourself fitting in?
“Basketball is improving really fast, the game is getting faster and faster, but I’m prepared for that, during the rehab we also worked on the aspect of speed, also in the summer league I’ve played against some fast guys, and even though the game has changed my basketball IQ remained the same.”
Do you see yourself joining the Slovenian national team?
“Yes, why not, but first our national team has the qualify to the 2017 Eurobasket from qualification tournament, and hopefully that they will succeed and achieve this goal, we’ll have to wait and see how things turns up next year.”
What are your expectations for the upcoming season, which team do you think can fit you the most?
“Right now I’m only focused on working hard and getting better so that I could be prepared for the upcoming season, and this is my main concern at the moment rather than which team would suit me better, and my agent takes care of the rest.”
For how long is this comeback?
“I think that I have five years in me, but I will try to play for as long as I can because I love the game of basketball and I still feel like that I have a lot more to give but also to learn, there’s a lot of basketball left inside me and I feel that I belong on the court.”
You and Maccabi, was it something that could have happened, given the chance would you like to join the club?
“There was interest from Maccabi, my agent was in contact with them, and he’s still in good terms with them. I don’t know what prevented it from happening, my career had a path which I had to follow. I respect Maccabi it’s a wonderful club and one of the best in Europe so who wouldn’t want to play for Maccabi”
What are your thoughts on the new Euroleague format?
“I think it will make the game more attractive and even a bigger spectacle than what it was, and that would probably bring more spectators to the game, also the new format makes sure that the intensity as well as the level of basketball being played will reach the highest level so it will definitely make things much more interesting.”
Being almost the same age as Giannis Bourousis (who had an amazing season), was it something that motivated you, especially when no one really knew what your status was?
“Giannis is a great player who simply showed what he could do all along. When he demonstrated that he can dominate at this level at his age, for sure it gave me motivation, but at the same time I knew I had to stay focused on improving my game to the point where I’ll become the best that I can be.”