We are one game away! Just 40 minutes away from winning the EuroCup! Nobody really counted on us and we were kind of the black horse among the eight teams that were in the EuroCup playoffs. It is very exciting for us to see that not only did we make it to the Finals, but are taking it to Game 3. Valencia plays at home and of course, they are the favourites, but they also have a lot of pressure on their backs. I am sure that if the game is tied in the final minutes, it will come down to who handles that pressure better. We finally beat Valencia after five consecutive losses this season. We played really well and were very, very motivated to win Game 2 in front of our fans. It was the right time to finally beat them, but now we have to go to Valencia and try to do it again! Even though we lost five times against them, if we beat them in Valencia, Unicaja will be the EuroCup champion. Nothing we did in the past really matters right now, it all comes down to Game 3 on Wednesday and we will fight to win it.
Of course, a do-or-die game is always different from any other. First, I am sure we will play in front of a really hot atmosphere and a sellout crowd in Valencia. I am sure some of our fans will travel to the game in Valencia, as well as our families. That will be an even bigger motivation for us! It is going to be an exciting game and both teams will have a lot of pressure. Like I said, whoever handles it better and thinks only about basketball and not about what can happen if it wins will have the best chances to lift the trophy. We have to focus on the next play - always. We played with really high intensity in Game 2, higher than in other games. We know it is only one game and we have to play with the same mentality, giving it all on the court, if we want to win. I think we can do it again. We played really well in Game 1 on defense, but didn't capitalize on offense. Our defense has always been there; we allowed 68 points in Game 1 and 71 in Game 2. We were more or less at the same defensive level, but our offense was much better in Game 2.
I have to say it was really amazing to play in front of our fans in Game 2; what a great atmosphere! They call it "the Green Hell" and it was definitely on. They really helped us a lot, giving us extra energy and showing us the way to finally beat Valencia. We believe in ourselves and know that we can win; Valencia is not unbeatable. This is the most important win for us. We have to build on it and try to beat Valencia again. I was the first player to score in Game 2, a three-pointer, and the crowd went wild after that. We had a very good start and small details give you extra faith, positive energy and of course, confidence. All that helped us improve and finally beat Valencia. I am really happy that this three-point shot went in. I didn't shoot very well in Game 1 and am happy I could help the team more this time around.
It is great that we brought in Alen Omic, because he is giving us a lot, especially in the EuroCup Finals. Alen is playing more minutes because of Dejan Musli's injury and he is doing his job really well, trying to stop Bojan Dubljevic as much as he can, getting rebounds and scoring key points under the basket, which we need a lot. We are trying to play as hard as we can without Dejan, who is the best center in the EuroCup. We are also doing it for him; he cannot play right now and he deserves the title as much as we do.
Like I said, focusing on the next play is one of the biggest keys to a game like this. You cannot look ahead and think about all the good things that come with a win, like getting the EuroCup trophy and qualifying for the EuroLeague. We have to stay away from that and just play our best basketball. It is really hard to stay focused because sometimes you cannot avoid thinking about what can happen if you win. We need to stay focused and not think about the consequences a win would have. We have to give our best right now, in every play, because this is what will help you win down the stretch in a crucial game like this is.
We have had good starts in both games. We were able to get back on defense really fast and not allow them to score easy points. That makes Valencia’s wings play even harder, so stopping their transition game is critical for us. We need to have a good defensive balance and be smart, share the ball and take care of it. We cannot forget about the mental side of this game; being calm and cold-blooded will help a lot.
Our fans will be watching - some in Valencia, some at home, some will get together to watch the game - and I would like to send them a message. First of all, a big, big "thank you" for everything that you have given us from the beginning of the EuroCup. You are doing great and we are just trying to pay you back with good results. We will try to play as hard as we can to give Malaga some joy; keep your fingers crossed and stay positive!