Turkish Airlines Euroleague
December 07, 2013
Friday, April 13, 2012
The time has come
This is my last blog entry before the Eurocup Finals and I have to say that I am excited. Being here at the Eurocup Finals and seeing some of my old Valencia teammates brings me back to one of my greatest basketball memories - winning the Eurocup in 2010. I had so much fun that year with a great bunch of guys and I definitely would love to repeat those feelings again this year with Khimki. The sensation of winning it cannot be described. If you can't play in the Euroleague, this is the best thing and the best way to get there. And winning this title this year would be another great memory in my career, so I hope we get a chance to repeat that.
In competitions like these, single-elimination tournaments, it doesn't always come down to talent or the x's and o's of basketball. It comes down to the team that plays together, that plays with the bigger heart. The team that wants it the most. If you come here looking individually to achieve something, you're not gonna win. That's what happened with my team in 2010 and we won. And I think it's also happening this year in Khimki: we have quality and we don't care who scores, we just get the job done. I think that's gonna be the key: to play 40 minutes together.
I hope the team is not feeling too much pressure from playing at home. We gotta look at that as an advantage: it is the court where we have been practicing and playing for seven months, we're familiar with the gym more than any other team, we're playing in front of our fans... I think that all those things are definitely positive but we cannot rely on that only to win the games. The three other teams, Spartak, Lietuvos Rytas and Valencia are all great teams, so we will have to rely on more than the home-court advantage to win the whole thing.
I expect the semifinals to be the toughest game. Before the games start everyone is a little bit nervous because we all know no mistakes are allowed. You don't know what to expect. I think it's gonna help us to start playing with Spartak because we have played them twice this year and know them a little bit. Normally in the semifinals, the basketball is rather ugly, not really for show, and you have to first focus on calming down and controlling the nerves.
I love this Eurocup Finals setup in which you play two games in two days, especially with our team. One of our strengths is our depth; 11, 12 guys that can step on the court and contribute, and we're gonna need that. We won't be all able to perform at the same level back to back this weekend and it will come down to the team with the better bench and the most depth. I like this style.
Spartak is a good team, they play together. They have a lot of important players and you can't just focus on one, they all come in and do their job very well. They're very well coached. However, the sparkplug, the guy that gets things going for them is Patrick Beverley, he kinda dictates how they play the game. If he plays well, he can give the ball to the right guys and the team clicks. In the last two games, which we won by the way, we were able to accomplish the goal of controlling Beverley a little bit. That's the key to beating Spartak. But then they also have Yotam Halperin, who is a great player with experience, and a bunch of good Russian players, but the key will be stopping Beverley in the first place.
That’s it from me. I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts. Now it’s time to focus on the games and grabbing that title. Hopefully the next time you hear from me it will be as a two-time Eurocup champion!
THOMAS KELATI - KHIMKI, RUSSIA
The time has come
Welcome to the Eurocup Finals!
Ready for the next phase
Everything clicking so far