26-year-old Carlos Martinez is one of only three Spanish players in 3BL Season 3. While Martinez is playing for Mumbai Heroes, his Spanish teammate from ‘Onil 3×3’, Jose Blazquez, will be suiting up for Goa Snipers. Meanwhile, popular streetballer Ariadna Geli Perez from Barcelona will be the first foreign player in 3BL’s Women’s League, representing Pune Panthers.
Prior to the start of the season, 3BL’s media team caught up with Martinez to take stock on how he’s settling in with his new team, his expectations from Season 3, and his cultural experiences from being in India for the first time.
- How did this opportunity to play in 3BL come about?
I knew about 3BL because I am a professional 3×3 player. One good friend of mine, Carlos Manrique, who lives in Nepal had a contact with the League and they were looking for international players, so my profile was fitting what they were looking for. After that my agent from Spain, Jaime Alonso, finished the deal.
There are a lot of Spanish players who have played 3×3 tournaments, but I am the first Spanish player to play abroad in an international professional 3×3 league. For me it’s just an amazing experience, I am very grateful.
- Is this your first time in India?
Yes. This is my first time in India and second time in Asia. I really love new cultures, I really love India. Very nice people!
- I know you are in a bubble, but have you had the chance to experience Indian culture? Maybe try out the local cuisine in your hotel?
I love the food here…a little bit spicy but I love the taste. In the Hotel [Wyndham Mohali Chandigarh] buffet we have every Indian food (sic). My colleagues say it is not spicy, but it is spicy for me a lot (sic) but we try everything…chicken, masala, lamb, everything…a lot of rice, a lot of salads…the food here is very good…they are treating us very well.
- Are you happy with your team? How have the initial practices been?
I am very happy. This is kind of a strange situation because I have never been with them…but this is not only for me…only 2-3 teams have played together and know each other. For the rest we have to come here and in two days play together. 3×3 is very difficult especially if you have to play together. But we are working on it. We don’t have a lot of time, but today we saw some plays…we saw the way we want to play. Let’s see…I am very optimistic. We will fight for it.
- Gurugram Masters are the defending champions, while Mumbai Heroes is still a team on the up. What message would you like to send out to the other teams?
I would say, we respect everybody but we are afraid of nobody!
- There seem to be many Spanish supporters who are commenting on social media and seem keen to watch you on the live-stream on 3BL’s YouTube channel…
I didn’t know [about this]. But yes we have some Spanish support. I think that’s cool…that’s good for the league, that’s for good my team…..that’s good for me… I’m grateful for that…It’s good for everyone…
- Spain has a very strong basketball culture, while India is still best known for cricket. How did your teammates, coaches and family back home react when they found out you were coming to India to play basketball?
(laughs) They didn’t believe me [at] first. But it’s because they didn’t know about the 3×3 league here. But once they found out, they saw ‘this is a very real thing’…so everybody was surprised and everybody now is supporting Mumbai Heroes!
They asked if they play 3×3 here [in India]. It was kind of strange [for them] that there was a strong league of 3×3 here…they didn’t know. I explained to them that there is a league here in India. Now they know more.
- Are you impressed with the level of basketball talent you have seen in your limited time here so far?
As you say I didn’t see a lot [yet]. But I think there are talented players. I think there are teams that played together in other seasons so they have some kind of advantage. My team, I think we are young. We have to play fast, we have to be so active and give energy and bring [an] explosive game to the League.
- Has communication with your teammates been a problem?
No. To be honest we can communicate easily. Even when we don’t understand, the intentions are good. As I said, Indian people are nice!
- What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
Of course [the] target for every sportsman is to win. But with this experience I want to live it as much as I can. I want to have fun. I want to know other people. I want to try different food. I want to learn and I want teach as much basketball as I can to my teammates…and maybe give some highlights to the League…we will see!
- Once the Season is completed, do you plan to travel around India, any places you want to visit?
That’s one thing I have to see because I have some tournaments coming [up] in Spain. But if I can, I want to stay here for one week to come to New Delhi…to visit Taj Mahal…I don’t know [but] if we win, maybe we can celebrate in Mumbai too!
- Your thoughts on the first foreign player in women’s 3BL, Ariadna Geli Perez, who is also from Spain & is a very popular personality on Instagram…
She’s a very nice person. She has a lot of good, positive energy. That is why she is popular. For sure we knew each other before we came [here]. We have a very good relationship & friendship. We are happy to be here & help each other.
- Do you think your participation has created a buzz back home and can inspire more players from Europe to come play in 3BL?
I got a lot of questions [from other players back home]: ‘How you got there?’ ‘Is that possible there [to play in India]?’… ‘For how long will you be there?’ and so on. For sure, before and after [this season, we will see a difference] in this League with [more] foreign players [participating]. I hope I can come and play some other years for sure.