VETERAN Luis Scola felt blessed to find himself playing for a team that has a strong chance of contending for the title in the coming 2013-14 NBA season.
Scola found himself suiting up for the Indiana Pacers after playing for the woeful Phoenix Suns last season. The veteran 6-foot-9 power-forward was acquired by the Pacers last August following a trade for Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green, and a future-first round pick.
“I’m very happy to be here (Indiana) and play a big role. It’s a great team. They played very well last season and it’s a team that has improved (in the off season),” added the 33-year-old native of Buenos Aires, Argentina during the post-game interview that followed the Pacers’ 116-96 loss to the Houston Rockets in the first ever NBA pre-season game to be held in the country Thursday night.
Scola described his stay with Phoenix as a “difficult season” as the Suns finished dead last in the West with their 23-59 win-loss card, the team’s first season in the post-Steve Nash era.
“Last season was a very difficult season. We lost lots of games and finished last in the West. But now, I’m coming to a team that has just played in the conference finals,” he said.
Scola, a former Houston Rockets stalwart, scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Pacers in the game watched by 12,000 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena, while playing a solid back-up role for starting power forward David West.
A veteran player of the Argentina national squad, Scola averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Suns where he played in all 82 regular season games.
Now with the Pacers, Scola doesn’t expect to score that much, though his experience on the low block adds depth for an Indiana team that pushed the Miami Heat on the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals last May.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel said the entry of Scola easily improves the team’s basketball IQ because of the Argentine big man’s long NBA experience.
“We felt like we improved our basketball IQ with the addition of Luis Scola, someone who just has a feel for the game that quite frankly you can’t teach,” said Vogel.
“To have him come in and be able to contribute to the culture of the team we have here should really strengthen our team.”
Vogel further mentioned Scola’s off-the-bench role easily fits the team’s emphasis on pounding the ball inside with West and rising center Roy Hibbert manning the Pacers’ frontline.
“We play big, that’s part of our identity, to try to stay big as much as possible. And to have someone of his (Scola) abilities and experience-level, who is just an international legend, and one of the best power forwards in the NBA, that really strengthens us,” explained Vogel.