Petar Janjusic, the Yugo-Swedish with Ibrahimovic in the heart and Bodiroga as idol. Discovering the 2001-born shooting guard arrived last summer to Stellazzurra Basketball Academy
Pubblicato il Venerdì 23 Dicembre 2016 - General News
He is the first Swede in the Stellazzurra Basketball Academy's history. Petar Janjusic, 2001-born shooting guard, 187cm-tall, arrived last summer from Malmö to the wonderful stellino world to pursue his dream of becoming a professional basketball player. In Sweden basketball is not the main sport, you know, but Petar has also Serbian origin and there basketball is a religion. The U16 Stellazzurra's player has told us in a special focus about him, starting right from its geographical origins: “My father is Serb, he was born in Belgrade, my mother was born in Sweden but her parents are also Serbs. I have been a lot of times in my father's home to visit my grandparents. And every time I come back to Serbia I like to go even to Montenegro, where there is the sea in which I went as a child and where I still continue to go for vacation. Moreover, the Montenegrins are extremely similar to the Serbian people”.
To Rome from Malmö: how does it sound?
“Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden. It has many historical buildings, as well buildings with modern architecture, green parks and the sea. All this makes it a beautiful place. The Öresund Bridge connects it to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, and this, together with the fact that it's one of the cities with the largest number of immigrants, makes it a place where many different cultures meets. Swedes are more quiet opposite to italians. For example, if you seat next to a guy in the locker room in Sweden the people are very much quite. They are not like Italians, here they speak a lot, it always happens new things, they are not scared of anything and I like this very much”.
When did you start playing basketball and how old were you?
“I started to play later, when I was 11, with Malbas Basketball, a Malmö's club. Before, I played tennis for six years, because even my older brother played tennis, then I saw him play and I wanted to imitate him. He continues to play tennis at college in the United States, to Eastern Illinois in the NCAA Division 1. So when I was 11 I decided to stop with the tennis court and began to play basketball. I saw so many talented Serbian players in basketball and I said: "I want to play this sport". I was already the highest in the class, so I went to train with Malbas Basketball, at the beginning it was hard because it's never easy to start with a new sport, especially if you start it when you are 11. I was priviliged during my last 2 years at Malbas to be trained by coach Andreas Holmgren and we made very good results in the Swedish Championships. In short, it took a lot of time to get to the level I am on now".
How did your desire to come to Stellazzurra Basketball Academy?
“My dream has always been to go to Europe and play in a club with good possibilities for development as a basketball player. I did a video of the highlights of my season, I sent to Stellazzurra, I was glad that they contacted those back and they said that I can go for a trial to its highly specialized Camp in Roccaporena, in Umbria region. I came to Rome to visit it, I came here on a trip with my family and then I went to the Camp for a week in July, there it was the first time I played with the actual team. Immediately I realized a different culture, a different mentality, I saw in Roccaporena they have outside court, we ran inside nature, normally when you think of the game of basketball you think as a sport to play indoor not outside. I like it. I was not surprised that it would be totally harder than Swedish camps, I could see the difference between how the Italians play basketball and how the Swedes play basketball, it's a lot more aggressive, there are more contacts, everything goes fast, there is no things to wait to think. I have been training in Spain during the last three summers and I got oppurtunities to stay there and play in different clubs but none of them had all the things Stellazzurra has got: to play tournaments against the best clubs in Europe (in the pic above, in the starting lineup with the No. 8 green and black jersey versus Barcelona in a Badalona's tournament in Spain, in the pic below with the No. 5 jersey with the U16 Stellazzurra's team), to play the EYBL, the European Youth Basketball League, to attend one of the best American high school in Italy and to live at the same place where the basketball facilities are together with basketball players from all around the world. And let's not forget that Stellazzurra is in Rome, one of Europe's greatest and most famous cities”.
How is your feeeling now with Stellazzurra after the first 4 months?
“I'm very happy that I am here. It's not a small thing, it's a very big thing for me. I go to a very good school like the Marymount International School, play in tournaments with real good level of basketball, I think this is a very good choice for me to become a better player. I feel more like a man, living here without my parents and take care of myself no mum and no dad that take cares of you. So it's very important to plan your time, school, basketball, health, all those things”.
What's your goal for the basketball career?
“My first goal is to play in NCAA Division 1 basketball college, it's something that my brother has got and it gives me a lot of motivation to go I also. I also think it's important with the school to get a good education and at the same time play a very high level basketball. I think it's a great way to play college basketball for four years, I think you can become a great basketball player. There is also a very different style of basketball, so I will have to adapt to another change, but it's a great experience to go to the next level”.
And where do you see yourself after the college experience?
“Probably in a Division 1 League in Europe, maybe that plays in the Euroleague, that is the top for me. Or play in the Italian league, I'd like to, yes”.
Do you have any idol among the Swedish basketball players?
“There are some important basketball players from Sweden, the Boston Celtics' Jonas Jerebko in the NBA, Real Madrid's Jeffrey Taylor, the young boy that now plays in Barcelona, Marcus Eriksson. But in basketball there are no idols in Sweden like swedish players, they've never been very famous. So I had always look at a player from former Jugoslavia, Dejan Bodiroga (who finished his playing career in Rome itself). He was very special because I saw him very non-physical and very slow, but he had the mind, he thought quick. Sometimes it doesn't matter how fast you can run, it's how fast you can think about the situations during the game. It seems that he played very easy or it's supposed to be easy. Otherwise I must mention Zlatan Ibrahimovic, still he is not a basketballplayer, but he is my absolute idol, he also comes from Malmö and has played in Italy. I am very happy when our Fitness Coach calls me Zlatan”.
What are your best skills on a basketball court?
“I like the shoot, I like it very much”.
You shoot, but are you scoring too?
“In the practice is going well, I just need some improvements in the tournament. A lot of shots I take them both off the dribble that from static, catch and shoot three. I like more to get out of the picks, to repick even, to get free spot, I want to keep out to get free space. Until now I have played againts the best European clubs but during next year I will get licence to play against Italian clubs, I am really looking forward to that".
Now, the most classic question for a foreigner in Italy: what do you think of the Italian food?
“You Italians eat much, much, much pasta. Pasta and pasta everyday, a lot of pasta. I like pasta but you know, c'mon, it's not any single day without pasta...”, Petar laughs. “But I watch that the Italians have good health, their life normally is very healthy. And in Italy, of course, there is really the best pizza in the world”.
Finally, say something you haven't said yet in this interview.
"I want to say thanks to my parents and all people in Sweden and Italy that have helped me to get me where I am now. I wish all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year".
Below a video of Petar in action during a training session at Stellazzurra: