Bargnani ready to work

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Anyone thinking Andrea Bargnani expects to waltz into Raptors camp this weekend in his own backyard and be handed a starting job is sorely mistaken.

Bargnani, who was on a conference call yesterday orchestrated by NBA Europe pumping the league's pre-season training camps, stopped one of his questioners in his tracks when he referred to him as an NBA star.

"First of all I am not an NBA star. I still have to work a lot to become a star," Bargnani said quickly correcting his overzealous inquisitor.

As for being a starter this year with the Raptors, Bargnani is not taking anything for granted.

"I don't know if I will be in the starting five," Bargnani replied when another questioner stated his potential starting role as fact. "We have a lot of good players. I think you have to deserve (a spot) in the starting five. I'm ready to work, to practice 100% and after that we will see what happens. The coach will make his decision." In fact, the first European to be drafted No. 1 overall in the NBA spent much of the conference call talking about what he still has to work on.

"I have to improve my rebounding the ball and my game in the low post," Bargnani said. "That's what I worked a lot on with my coaches this year and I have to improve."

Bargnani sounded slightly testy when Italy's less-than stellar play in the European Basketball championships was raised.

BAD BASKETBALL

"Of course I am upset about that," he said of Italy's initial failure to qualify for Beijing. "We played very bad basketball. We were not a team and we will have to work a lot to improve for next year," he added referring to the last-chance Olympic qualifier Italy must now play in to earn a spot in next summer's Olympics.

But Bargnani said he will not think about that until after his NBA season with the Raptors is over.

The Raptors will split time between Treviso and Rome (Bargnani's hometown), Italy and Madrid, Spain during the trip.


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