Drake Diener has been one of the most solid scorers in European basketball over the last decade. After nine seasons in Italy, Diener has taken his outstanding shooting skills to CAI Zaragoza, the fourth team in his Eurocup career after previous appearances with BancaTercas Teramo, Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari and Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia. With over 500 Eurocup career points, Diener hopes to finally reach high in the Eurocup, just as his team, CAI Zaragoza, which looks for its first-ever elimination rounds experience. Keep an eye on what Drake and CAI are doing, all season long, through his blog!
We made it to the Last 32. Not only did we accomplish that goal, but we need second place, which is also important to potentially give you maybe a little bit easier group in the Last 32. We are happy with how we played over the first nine Eurocup games. We have been able to win a lot of close games, which is something we haven't done in the Spanish League. I think that is kind of the way it goes sometimes: you make an important shot like Sek Henry did in Ulm last week, and that gives you a lot of confidence you can use going forward.
Sek's winning shot against Ulm was clutch. I wouldn't say the shot was lucky, but the situation was. Tomas Bellas lost the ball a little bit and Sek was kind of lucky to be there and grab the ball, but once he grabbed it, he got a decent shot up and Sek is a good shooter. He shot with confidence and gave us a very important win at the buzzer. We were happy in the locker room but it was not anything too crazy. We are obviously very happy for him and the team. We had played two overtimes in the Spanish League and didn't want to play another one!
We managed to win in Ulm without two of our best players, Joan Sastre and Stefan Jelovac. We proved that our team is pretty deep. We have a long team - guys like Pere Tomas didn't play very much in the earlier part of the season but when he got an opportunity, he proved how good of a player he is. He is a really good team player who comes in and gives us a lot of hustle plays: loose balls, rebounds, makes a couple of shots... He is a great guy to have and stays ready. He has done well almost every time he had an opportunity. So when a couple of guys are missing, I don't think that our mentality changes too much, because everyone else is ready to play.
Isaac Fotu played well in that game, too. He is a really quiet guy, really reserved. His look on the court, with his big hair, maybe suggest that he has a big personality but off the court, like I said, he is pretty quiet. I have been really, really impressed with him all season. He is a young guy who is playing really well right now and has a great future. He definitely plays hard and competes. He is a pretty strong guy, too. He plays physical and plays pretty hard on defense. He is a good rebounder.
I think I should be honest and forthright in this blog and say that I have been having some health issues. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease back in 2005. When I was diagnosed in 2005 and then over the course of my career, in my nine seasons in Italy, many, many people asked me for advice and things like that. For nine years in Italy, I didn't have a single problem and always told people I was very fortunate to be able to do everything normal. Finally, in the 10th year of my career, here in Zaragoza, I have had some issues with it.
The first problem I had was when we first played against Nancy, which was at the end of October, and the problem has continued until now. We are in the process of trying to figure out what exactly the situation is and how to go forward, so we will see. It has been a frustrating month and a half. Most people don't know much about Crohn's disease, but in my case, I can feel really good one day and have some problems the next day. It is kind of up and down and it has given me some problems.
There are a lot of worst things in the world than what I have, obviously, so I consider myself to be pretty lucky. Like I said, I played my whole career until now without ever missing a single practice or game due to my problem. It kind of just came up out of nowhere at the end of October. I couldn't play in that game against Nancy and from there, I felt good some days, not good some others... It is a frustrating thing not only for me, personally, but also for the team, I am sure. It is tough not give the team what I know I can give but that is life and, like I said, I have been lucky for nine years and now that luck has ran out a little bit. But I am staying positive and my health is the most important thing. We will figure it out and see what we have to do in the future.
The club is helping me a lot, too. It is a strange thing for them, I am sure, because Crohn's disease is not very typical. It is not uncommon but it is not a typical disease. Basically, every person who has Crohn's disease has different symptoms, different medication, different... everything! In my case, my only two symptoms are abdominal pain and fatigue. I think that, for an average person, it is hard to understand and it is hard for me to explain what is going on. The club has been really supportive and they understand that my health is most important. They have been really supportive on trying to find a solution and figure out what we need to do to get right. I have seen a specialist here in Zaragoza and this week I am having another exam. Hopefully this exam can give us some answers on what the situation is and what we need to do.
It is tough for me because like I said, I played my whole career without a problem and when it does come up, it makes you think back of all these years I have played without any kind of problem. It is hard to explain and makes you put things in perspective. I am here to play basketball for CAI Zaragoza and I hope that we figure out a solution here soon. My health is definitely the most important thing and we will see what we have to do.
I will be OK. It is frustrating but like I said, there are a million other problems in the world and I'm looking forward to getting back to normal.