Bargnani Wants NBA to Expand to Rome

by John Hobbs / @johnswisshobbs

LONDON — After a good night’s sleep — and time to adjust — Toronto’s resident Italian, Andrea Bargnani was upbeat heading into the series of games against the New Jersey Nets in London’s O2 Arena.

Despite being upbeat, the 7-footer was adamant that his team is here strictly for business.

“This is a great occasion, and I’m looking forward to these two games,” Bargnani stated. “Everybody is pretty excited, it’s a new experience, something special, but when the game starts it’s just going to be another game for us, for the crowd, for the organization it’s going to be some different.

“We’re a young team, everyone is getting better. But, we’re pretty young, so it shows on the court sometimes, other times we are up in the last quarter and we lose the lead and we lose our heads, but it comes with experience, and hopefully next season, we’ll come better prepared” the Italian explained.

Bargnani also has high hopes of having regular-season NBA Europe games permanently in the future – which would include a five-team mini-league. Something that NBA Commissioner, David Stern has said will be ‘inevitable.’ The Raptors’ star, who is averaging 21.8 ppg, before tonight’s historic encounter, would love his birthplace of Rome to have a franchise.

“It would be great for Rome to have a franchise, but as for playing man, I’m with Toronto,” Bargnani clarified.

“To organize something like that though, with all the traveling and stuff, it will be very complicated. But the NBA wants to stage this as a permanent feature, and it would be great, but I hope Rome would get a spot.”

Looking ahead to the game against the Nets, Bargnani was aware of facing a stronger Nets team now that Deron Williams was in the set-up.

“He’s one of the top point guards in this league,” Bargnani said. “He runs the floor well, and can score when needed, he has adjusted well with the Nets and no doubt, they are a better team now with him.”

The mood is certainly relaxed here now that the Raptors have suitable practice under their belt, and they will look to build on their win over CP3 and the Hornets with two victories in front of a sell-out crowd at one of Europe’s largest indoor arenas.

Follow John on SLAMonline and Twitter @johnswisshobbs for Raptors coverage in London.