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Moldoveanu happy to see Romania back on the big stage
CLUJ-NAPOCA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019) - It took a long time for Romania to return among the European basketball elite, to be exact – 30 years, but the Romanians are now back on the big stage and they intend to hang around.
The national team's star player, Vlad Moldoveanu, wasn't even born when the country last appeared in a major international tournament, back at FIBA EuroBasket 1987.
"Our energy and effort will have to be at 100% every night, we have to be focused so we don't allow anything easy. As an underdog, you want to make sure you avoid any mistakes that can create something easy for the opponents."Vlad Moldoveanu
However, the upcoming FIBA EuroBasket 2017, which Romania will co-host, and the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers, will be a perfect opportunity to mingle with the top teams and make up for lost time.
"This is huge. I hope the Romanian Basketball Federation will push basketball upwards, like it was a few years ago. We need to make some noise on the international stage and hopefully more teams will attract bigger private sponsors and then we can talk about a healthy system. I think with the right promotion, this will be a huge boost for Romanian basketball," said the 29-year-old forward, known primarily for his versatility and an excellent outside touch.Competitive in nature, Moldoveanu himself admits, this is exactly the sort of challenge he has been looking for ever since first suiting up for the senior national team in 2008.
"I am very excited. We were so close to qualifying [for the FIBA EuroBasket 2011 Division A] a few years ago and that was a big disappointment for us. But we've learned from that and moved on," said the player, going down memory lane. "We are a team that has been developing. The core of the team is from the 1987-88 generation, which still has at least four players in the national team every year."
Going forward, Moldoveanu says, the addition of a naturalized player at the point guard position could significantly boost Romania's outlook and change the face of the team.
"I'm not sure what style you can expect from Romania, because the addition of a top-level guard could change the dynamics of the team quite a bit," the sharp-shooting big man explained. "Of course, our energy and effort will have to be at 100% every night, we have to be focused so we don't allow anything easy. As an underdog, you want to make sure you avoid any mistakes that can create something easy for the opponents."
For the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers, Romania were drawn into Group D with big-names Croatia and Italy, as well as one more team from the European Pre-Qualifiers, to be established this summer.
"I think we have to see who the team that comes from the Pre-Qualifiers is before making evaluations," Moldoveanu said. "In this group, Croatia and Italy are clearly the strongest teams, but with the absence of NBA players, I think the European Qualifiers will look different. Personally, I hope that all the best players can participate."
This will be the first time that teams compete under FIBA's New Competition System that features in-season international windows, designed to give national teams a platform throughout the year and offer one summer of rest in every four-year cycle for the players.Moldoveanu also thinks that players will benefit from the extra time for individual development during the summers they would usually spend with their national teams.
"I like it, because it essentially gives you more time to work on your game and better yourself in the summer instead of being in camp with the national team for two months, where practices are not always focused on individual improvement," he said, while maintaining a slight reservation about the marginally increased length of the season.
However, before Romania can delve into the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers in November, there is another small matter at hand – they are one of the co-hosts of FIBA EuroBasket 2017.
Moldoveanu had his fingers crossed for Romania to be drawn with the big teams and his wish was very much granted by the basketball gods, with the likes of Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro and Spain landing in the same group.
"It is a tough group, but to me personally, it is one I like very much. It gives us a chance to play against the best European teams of the last century and also face some other very good sides," the played noted, pointing out the match-up against Spain and the Gasol brothers as one he most looks forward to.
And, having enjoyed a full season in Cluj-Napoca during the club season, Moldoveanu will be the first one to tell you that the atmosphere in the recently-constructed Polyvalent Hall will be second to none for the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 and any home games played there during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.