Raptors forward Juancho Hernangomez discusses his role on offence, comfort within Toronto's defence and ranks the teams he's rooting for in the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
- Juancho, how are you doing?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: Good. How are you guys doing?
- Good. Good.
- All right, please.
- How has the adjustment been from waiting-- kind of waiting for your turn and now the turn is coming and it's coming with a ton of minutes?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean, just happy to play. Happy to help the team to get some wins and just that.
- Is it sort of a little bit-- it must be frustrating at times when, you know, you don't play four or five games and trying to stay ready and all of that. How do you kind of keep your attitude during-- in those situations?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean, it is frustrating but every team got 18 players. The game, actually, it plays for with 9, 10 players, so it's a lot of players. You got to stay ready. You got to keep working on the game. You never know when the opportunity comes.
And it's not the first time I've been in this situation. I mean, NBA, every year it's a lot of players getting out, it's a lot of players coming in. So, just the players who keep working hard, keep believing in them, and keep being ready when the chance coming are the players who staying. So it's a hard business.
- What is the adjustment to playing this defense? I mean, it seems like a pretty big outlier, like pretty unique in this league the way you guys play defense.
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean, it's aggressive defense. We guys go there and give our 100%. I mean, it's funny to play the defense.
- Does it suit your style?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: Say again.
- Does it suit your style? Like is that like what--
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean--
--the way you would be anyway? Like--
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: --I'm happy. I'm happy. And I try to get to know what they want on defense, what they want in offense. I try to know how I can help the team in both ends. I'm just trying to adapt myself in the system.
- Do you think the way you play is suited to kind of fitting in with different lineups? And, I mean, everyone wants to play steady minutes with a steady group. But the fact that you are someone who doesn't need a lot of the ball to be effective, do you think it lends itself to, you know--
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean, I don't know. I know who the player I am. I know what's my strengths, and I just trying to help the team. If they need me to play defense, I try to play defense. If they need me to steal ball, I will. If they need me to pass the ball, I mean, I just to go there, you know, take the opportunity, do my best, and enjoy every single minute I'm on the court.
- Has it been fun to sort of get a chemistry with Thad going? In that Detroit game he found you a few times. What's it-- is that just like read and react stuff?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean, he's a great leader. He's a great vet. I know him a couple of weeks when we play in San Antonio after the trade. I mean, he know his IQ is really high. He knows how to pass. He know how to cut. He know when he get in the post or. He's been 15 years in the league, or I don't know how many, and he scored a 1000 million points. So he know how to play. I mean, he's pretty good.
- Do you have a World Cup prediction?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: Yeah, probably, Spain first. If we don't win, I would go in again with, probably, Argentina. And if not Portugal. So, oh, that three. Let's see.
- Where do you see the Canadians?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I mean, to be honest with you I don't know any player. To be honest with you. I mean--
- Alphonso Davies.
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: I don't know.
- Bayern Munich.
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: That's good.
- There's one.
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: Let's see if we match up. Spain against Canada. So it's going to be a good match up. I wish you guys the best. Wish you the best. So if it was Spain to win, maybe Canada is going to be there.
- Did you see that Spain is the number one ranked team in FIBA now?
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: Yeah, I saw it today and it's big news for us. Not for this year. It's been for the last 20 years starting from the old guys. 80 generation. They show us the way. They teach us the way. Thanks for them we know who-- we know now how to win, how to compete.
And, I mean, it's not going to be last forever for sure. I mean, just enjoying this moment, enjoying every single win, every single trophy. Let's see what happens on the field. And we know it's really hard and it's a lot of countries coming up. Canada is one of them. And we know how hard it is, so we just enjoying and make us proud. Make them proud, the old guys who teach us.
- Thanks, Juancho.
JUANCHO HERNANGOMEZ: Thank you, guys. Appreciate that.