Antonio Pena is a 28 year old 204cm power forward from Coney Island, New York who is playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany for rent4office Nuernberg. He started his basketball career at Villanova where he played from 2006-2011 playing a total of 138 NCAA games and as a senior played 33 games: 9.8ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 68.4%. IN 2011-2012 he came to Europe as a rookie playing for U.B. La Palma (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 34 games: 10.1ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 66.2%. In the 2012-2013 season he played for Caceres Basket (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 35 games: 9.8ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 68.4%. Last season he played for C.B. Tizona Burgos (Spain-LEB Gold): 35 games: 9.3ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 56.7%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 73.1%. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Cuxhaven Bascats.
Antonio thanks for talking to German Hoops. You completed the first leg of a road trip to Cuxhaven for a game Saturday. How would you compare road trips in Germany to Spain in the Leb Gold league where you played the last three seasons?
There is a big difference. Today we had a 8 hour road trip to Cuxhaven, but those were usual road trips in Spain. In Germany we are able to leave often on game day whereas in Spain I remember only doing it once. In terms of comfort it is about the same.
You signed very late into the current season with Nurnberg. Were you surprised how long it took for you to find a club? How was your focus this off season in preparation for finding that right team?
I was disappointed that it took me so long to find a team, but very happy to have the chance to play for Nurnberg. After playing in Spain for three years I wanted a change. I always had wanted to play in Germany. I really like Germany and would like to continue to play here.
You played with current teammate Braydon Hobbs two seasons ago at Caceres Basket in Spain. Did he help you make the decision to come to Nurnberg easier?
Braydon helped me to make my decision easier as well as Josh Young who knows Reggie Redding. These two guys and coach helped me to make my decision easier.
You have played six games with Rent4Office Nurnberg averaging 12,0ppg, 7,0rpg and 2,0apg. It seems like you have had no real adjustment period as you have been coming to terms well with the style?
The German Pro A style is fitting to my game, but there is always room for growth. I continue to work hard and get better.
How would you describe the skill and player talent in the German Pro A in comparison to the Spanish Leb Gold league?
That is a tough question, but I would say that it is about the same. In the Leb Gold teams tend to bottom out more near the end while here all the teams tend to be good.
You are the second oldest on the team after American Dan Oppland. What exactly is your role on the team?
My role is to be as vocal as possible and bring it to the floor each game and play hard. Coach told me to leave it out on the floor each game.
Nurnberg is currently in fifth place with a record of 9-6 and battling to stay in the playoff range. ON what things does the team need to improve on in the second half of the season to get even higher in the standings?
I think that we know that we have to continue to bring it each day and just compete. We know that we are good and have to show that to the other teams in the league. I have only been here a short time and am still learning. I am embracing them and want to continue to play hard and take on my role.
You are a power forward that can fill up the stats sheet, but what is a hidden strength that isn´t always noticed right away on the court?
I like to run and play in the open court. If I don´t get the rebound then I am always trying to get out on transition.
What has been your early impression of head coach Ralph Junge? He belongs to the top German coaches in Germany for developing very young players.
He brings out the best in each player. I am learning new things form him each day and also he teaches us to leave it all on the floor and come back to the bench exhausted.
What has been your impression of German A-2 national player Stephan Haukohl who has been a big contributer this season like you filling up the stat sheet?
He has much potential. He can play and guard multiple positions. He is a good young talent and sky is the limit for him.
As a rookie you played for U.B. La Palma. What was your wake up call to being a professional your first season in Spain?
Taking care of my body. After morning practicing relaxing instead of doing too many other things. I also learned that basketball is having fun, but it is a job.
How did you and Lukas Sikma push each other as rookies and what NBA story will you never forget from him?
He told me a few stories about his dad from the NBA, but that was some time ago. He is relentless on defense and was a part of each possession. He didn´t have to score, but at the end of the game you would always be amazed what he actually did accomplish in the game. He always got it done on the court.
Last season you played with American Taylor Coppenrath at Burgos in Spain. He is playing his ninth season in Spain. I guess he has some Spain stories to tell. How did you guys compliment each other best on the court?
I played mostly the three last season, but it was nice playing with him. He was relentless on the glass. He got all his points off the offensive rebound. He was always bumping and getting the dirty work done on the court.
You had a stellar career at Villanova. Reggie Redding once told me that Dwayne Anderson was like a big brother to him. How do you have Redding and Anderson in your memory. Where do they rack in all time best teammates for you?
Redding is my best friend. We just talked after Alba Berlin beat FC Barcelona. I actually got the most out of Dante Cunningham. He was my mentor.
How proud are you of your ex teammate Reggie Redding who was always off the radar to have gone from Cyprus to Euroleague team Alba Berlin. Can he still make the next step in his career?
I am very proud of him. He always finds a way to get better each season in terms of his shooting, ball handling or reading the game. He is still young and has much time to do what he wants. He can still find jobs in other countries and the NBA is always a possibility. He can do so much especially guarding multiple positions.
How did Villanova head coach Jay Wright prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He taught me to own up to my mistake and then move on to the next possession. He also taught me to play hard on each possession.
Where will the journey of the Brooklyn Nets end this season?
The east is a scary division. I think they will do ok and scratch for the playoffs.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Thanks Antonio for the chat.