The CSKA guard blogged about the adaptation process in Moscow, riding the Metro and getting to know Asker Barcho.
Time flies, don’t you think? It is all going so fast! I have been already been in Moscow for almost two months! I finished EuroBasket in late September and it is already mid-November, almost two months. I am adjusting pretty well to Moscow. There are times when you have to be aware that it is a long season and you have to adjust to a lot of things – the VTB League and the new EuroLeague, with a different format. It is a new life for us as a family, but also with my teammates. I have to say I am very satisfied and felt really well-received since the moment I arrived. My everyday life is very, very simple here. I don’t depend on the traffic because it takes five minutes to go from our home to the arena. All I have to do is focus on playing good basketball.
I knew the kind of club I was signing for and how important it is and what a great organization it is. You can already feel that when you play against CSKA, or what you heard from people who played here or against them many times. Some people warned me about the weather or how chaotic Moscow can be because of the traffic, that moving around the city, even short distances, can take you a big while. From my own experience, it has not been like that, not even once. Everything is set for us to feel comfortable and it is very easy for us to work here. It is not a surprise, because I knew how well-organized the club is.
I had spoken with all the Spanish players who played in Moscow before: Jorge Garbajosa, Carlos Cabezas, Raul Lopez and Victor Claver. It is a different experience to play for Khimki because the club is located in a different place. I don’t know how far away they lived from their own arena, but they all warned me about how difficult it was to move around. Well, honestly, I didn’t find any trouble. Not only does it take me just five minutes to go to our arena, but I also have a metro station just by our building. It takes me 10 minutes to go to Red Square or the Bolshoi Theatre area in downtown Moscow. Khimki is a bit further away and distances are longer but I don’t have any complaints about traffic, teammates or my life in general. I am very happy with how everything is so well-organized, enjoying life with my family and teammates, knowing it is a long season and that we have to work very hard to reach the decisive moments in the best circumstances.
Yes, I take the Moscow Metro from time to time. Not every day, because most practices are in the afternoon and most of the days, you schedule your day to be ready for practice. You cannot walk long distances if you are going to practice hard in the afternoon. Still, I use the subway to go to the city center at least once a week. There are some days off in which the GPS tells you it takes almost two hours to go to the city center by car, but only 10 minutes by metro. It is very comfortable for us! Some people recognize me when I travel by metro, but most people are focusing on what they are doing and don’t pay attention. Not everyone knows me here, of course.
CSKA is a top-class organization, I knew that coming in. It is a very important club, of course, you just need to see the players who were here and the titles CSKA won. Once you are on the inside, you just confirm that CSKA is a great club. Everything is top-class when it comes to hotels, travelling, practice facilities, sports clothes… I also had the luck to play for Real Madrid, which is also a unique club, just as CSKA, two great organizations really close to the NBA. You always have people helping you on a daily basis. Some people speak English but most don’t, and you need a person to help you out, booking restaurants, ordering stuff in supermarkets and shops, things like that. CSKA takes care of all that to make you feel even more comfortable.
I finally got to know Deda, our team’s legendary physiotherapist, and it is important to have him around in the locker room because of his positive energy. There are days when everything is more difficult, but he is always in a good mood. For us, the players, he is very important and I have a great relationship with him even when he doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Russian! He gets along well with everyone. He was an athlete when he was young and has stayed active. He may be 71 years old, but is in great physical shape. It is great to have him around. He has an office somewhere in our building and I already went there. It is great! He has pictures of all the historical players who were with CSKA, from big games, big titles. Nobody knows CSKA better than him, really. He has pictures of CSKA playing against Real Madrid, against players I know, which was fun. Deda is great!
I have to say we have been very lucky because of the timing of our arrival. We live in a very big building along with most CSKA players and they opened a nursery in the ground floor just a few months ago, in English and Russian. It takes barely a few steps to leave our daughter Carmela in the nursery. You can also tell that the city is getting ready for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year. Life is great and simple here, with malls and great restaurants everywhere, and a lot to see. Yes, the weather will get worse, but we knew that before we came, as everybody does. We will find the right routines to stay warm. We will also find a Russian teacher to be able to communicate with people better. We have to adapt and adjust to a new country but again, I feel that I have been very lucky to come here!