bbl cup 2013 568Jorge Calvo insists he is ‘very happy’ at Leicester Riders and is open to the idea of a third season with the club once the current campaign concludes.

However, the Spaniard’s immediate priority is focusing on the play-offs after back-to-back defeats to Newcastle in recent weeks all but ended Leicester’s defence of their Championship crown.

“It’s a possibility,” Calvo said of extending his Riders stay. “I’m very happy here and I think they are happy with me. First we have to focus on the play-offs then after that I can speak to Rob (Paternostro) and the club.”

Prior to the BBL Cup Final, Leicester had a 16-2 record in all competitions, but then lost seven of their next eleven after claiming victory at the NIA.

The Riders subsequenly dropped to fourth in the league, but improved to a 19-8 record after a double-winning weekend with victories over Manchester and Plymouth. Their 0-5 record against Newcastle and Worcester is a telling factor, proving detrimental to their title defence.

Calvo said: “We have a pretty good team, but in those games we have made mistakes and that’s why we have lost. We have to take care of the ball and play smarter, tougher basketball.”

Last season’s treble-winners slide in form coincided with Anthony Rowe’s season-ending knee injury while influential guard Anthony Downing also had a spell on the sidelines before his unexpected return.

“It was very hard for us. Anthony Rowe was huge for us and now he’s out for the season. We don’t like to use excuses. It happens to everyone, this season it just happened to us. We have to be ready to play with the players we have and keep going.”

He added: “It’s like a big family here. The chemistry is really good and we are more than just team-mates, we are all good friends which is really important.”

The Midlands side will aim to defend their crown when the play-offs begin in April having secured their place in the post-season. Leicester were victorious in last year’s Wembley final against Newcastle and Calvo believes now is the time to build some momentum in their remaining league games.

“It’s really important because the play-offs are close. It’s going to be tough because there are lots of good teams, but we have to improve and we have some good challenges before the play-offs.”

The aforementioned BBL Cup success was the Riders’ fourth piece of silverware within a memorable 12 months. Calvo hit a couple of huge triples in a 10-point cameo to help his side battle back to beat Newcastle 72-69 in January.

“It was really special,” he said. “The Cup was very important to us as it was the first trophy this season. It was a tough game against Newcastle and it’s a good thing to remember for us and the fans.”

Calvo has proved to be a very useful member of the Riders’ roster in his two-year stint and the 26-year-old describes himself as a ‘classic European’.

He said: “I try to play for the team and get everybody involved in the game. I try to be smart, read the game and do whatever the coach asks me to do.”

The 6’3″ point guard joined the BBL from LEB Gold side Baloncesto León S.A.D back in the summer of 2012 as Leicester composed their treble-winning squad. And Calvo believes the league has already improved in his time in the UK.

“The BBL is growing and it’s definitely stronger than last year. I think everybody is working hard to put this league in an important place in Europe.

“When I came here, I would say LEB Gold was much stronger, but right now I’m not so sure. The BBL is getting better and there are a lot of talented players in the league.”

Calvo hails from A Coruña, and admitted that basketball was not his first choice of sport as a child growing up in the North-Western Spanish province.

“When I was younger, I played football, but I was really bad. One day I went with my brother to play basketball and I really liked it so I’ve just carried on playing.”

The sport has continued to grow in Spain with the Liga ACB considered the second-best league in the world behind the NBA, in which the nation is represented by several stars such as Pau Gasol and Ricky Rubio. Calvo believes the 1992 Olympics had a big influence on the public while the national team has enjoyed increased success at major tournaments in recent years.

“The Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 was a big thing for us and all of a sudden everyone was talking about basketball and playing in the parks and streets. Seeing the USA team play and with basketball all over the news, it had a big influence on a lot of people.

“The Spanish national team has had a lot of success and it has helped basketball grow a lot. It’s huge now in Spain. I would say it is the second biggest sport after football, for sure.”

And Calvo is predicting more success ahead of this summer’s FIBA World Cup, hosted by his beloved Spain.

“Everybody is looking forward to it and already talking about it right now. I think it will be good, not only for the basketball, but for the country as well. It will be tough (for Spain), but I would say that we will get to the final.”

Calvo will be hoping to experience another final himself as the Riders aim to defend their play-off crown in the coming weeks.

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