Parra: “I didn’t expect to be captain of the National Team at 22 years old”

Joel Parra (Barcelona, ​​2000) is growing at breakneck speed in basketball. In just five years, the Joventut squad player has gone from making his debut in the elite with the seniors to being one of the key pieces of La Penya and the National Team, with whom he has already won a European gold and with which he premiered the captaincy on Wednesday against Iceland. And, all this, with only 24 caps and 22 years.

How did Joel Parra start in basketball? What is it that attracts you?

My parents have always played. They are the ones who put the ball in my hands. And, from there, it starts as a ‘hobby’. Until there comes a point where I think I can play basketball professionally.

And now, at the age of 22, captain of the National Team for the first time. It’s to be proud, isn’t it?

I did not expect to be the captain of the National Team at 22 years old. And, on top of that, a National Team like the Spanish one with so many successes. Being here is already a source of pride, but on top of that, being a captain…

Jaime Pradilla and Joel Parra, during the Eurobasket 2022.


Jaime Pradilla and Joel Parra, during the Eurobasket 2022.FEBDiary AS

Who are the ones who have helped you the most to get here?

I have learned something from all the coaches I have had in the Joventut academy, they have taught me something. They have made me the player that I am. And not only as a player, but as a person. It has been an accumulation of all Joventut in general. In that sense, I am very grateful to the club for everything that he has done with me and what he is still doing with me.

You speak of Joventut, the team that made you debut just five years ago. What is such a youth club, that is so committed to young people, helping players like you to make such fast and powerful leaps?

We are not going to discover now what Joventut is. It is a training club whose first idea is to get players to the first team. Every year the club is much better, competing at a high level in Europe and in the Endesa League. In the end, this means that young players can spend more time here, have more learning, more slice. The club is doing things very well.

I am going to give you a series of names: Pau Gasol, Felipe Reyes, Rudy Fernández… All of them have been captains of the National Team. Now it’s up to you. Isn’t it a bit dizzy to be in a group like this?

Man… we are talking about great players, great legends. I am only 22 years old, I am very young. So far, he has only been able to learn from Rudy this summer. Being the captain of the National Team is a source of pride, as I said before. I have to continue in this line and try to learn and compete to the maximum when I come here. I’m super happy to be on that list.

“I am super happy to be on a list with Pau, Felipe, Rudy…”

Joel Parra

What did you learn from Rudy during the Eurobasket as captain? What would you like to convey to his colleagues?

Many things. Above all, the competitiveness that he has in anything, both on and off the track. Rudy is a super competitor and has shown it throughout his career. For example, in La Pocha he always wanted to come first. This competitiveness has been key to the successes of the National Team. That is paramount. In the end, we come here to give our best for this jersey.

You are one of the pillars of youth and also of this Selection. He competes in Europe with his club, already has a gold medal and is captain of the National Team. How do you assimilate all this with only 22 years? Isn’t everything going very fast?

When you are on a day-to-day basis, in the end you don’t realize it, but if you stop to think, maybe the road is being very fast. I am grateful, but always with my feet on the ground, always knowing the possibilities you have and trying to improve every day. I am 22 years old, I am very young. I have just started my professional career. I’m happy with how everything is going, but aware that this is a very long process. That at the moment very good things are happening to me, but that there will be negative moments. I have to make the most of these positive feelings, but also be prepared because a race is ups and downs: downs can come at any moment and I have to be prepared for that.

I wanted to ask him about those moments of depression. Do they scare you?

I think it’s part of the process of the professional player. And I’m not only speaking from the perspective of the player, but also of the team. In the end there are always ups and downs. You can’t always be great. I wish every day were ten! Both playing and training. We have to be prepared to face it in the best possible way and take the bull by the horns because in the end it is everyday life, not only for the professional player, but for anyone.

“If you stop to think, maybe the road is being very fast”

Joel Parra

The World Cup is on the horizon, how much do you want to go?

Many. The experience of playing a European is incredible, a World Cup even more. And in the end, whenever the National Team calls you, it is a source of pride. Above with the players that we are and playing a World Cup … I think it is something incredible. We will work so that, at least, that call arrives for the summer and from there it will be seen.

Let’s go to the Cup. Elimination was hard, right? They were seen in the final…

Yes. Yes. Now, you think ‘in the end it’s sport and these things happen’. But when you lie on the bed, you say to yourself ‘we had an incredible opportunity’. The Cup in Badalona, ​​at our house… We had been playing basketball very well. It was one of those bad moments, in the sense of wasting a great opportunity. We have to take the positive things that this Cup has left us, both individually and collectively, and face the season knowing that if the twelve players are united we can do great things. It has to serve as experience for the remainder of the season.

You were the protagonist of the last play (Abromaitis blocked his tray to win). If you knew how he finished before you caught the ball, would you have taken the same responsibility or would you have preferred someone else to take it on?

No no. I too would have taken the ultimate responsibility. He came with a lot of confidence from the Baskonia match and throughout the semifinal match against Lenovo Tenerife. But, now, cold, you think that I could have done this, I could have done such… It came out like this. In the end there were only a few seconds left. I see myself very alone and I don’t see how Abromaitis comes from behind and hooks me on the ball. Looking at the photos, the repetition that day, well, he could have made a passed hoop, a mate… They are very fast plays, heads or tails. And it came out tails for us.

“I would have also taken the final responsibility in the Cup knowing how it ended”

Joel Parra

Let’s go with something more positive. They are strong in the Eurocup and if they win it they will have a place in the next Euroleague. What would it mean to you?

It would be incredible, but not only for me but also for the club. It would be putting him back to where he was years ago. But there is a lot left. We have to go game by game, as we have done in this Cup and then we will see. In the end, in the Eurocup they are also life or death matches. We must be prepared for anything.

There is much talk about his future, with information about Madrid and Barcelona. Do you listen to those news?

No. I’m very good at Joventut. Everything that comes out does not affect me, I am focused on my team, on trying to improve and I have to continue in that line. I have a contract with Joventut and in the future we will see.

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