It's been special to be with these guys from Day One, from the first day of practice. The first day of training camp, you should have seen us. It was unbelievable competition and that's when I knew it was going to be special. And here we are: EuroCup champions!
The celebrations were quick and short because we had to get back to our schedule for another game in the Turkish League. After we won on Friday, as a team we all packed ourselves onto the team bus, went to a rooftop bar and celebrated the accomplishment with Coach Blatt. It was a good experience. We celebrated for one day and then on Sunday we were already watching film to prepare for our next match.
It was a dream-come-true. We worked hard and give credit to Lokomotiv for playing a great game. Luck got us through the first game, but a lot of it was made possible by us fighting till the end. We were nervous, but we never gave up. We kept pushing and pushing until we found a way to win that game at Loko. It's been like that all year. We never give up. Our team always found a way to fight and you could see it from the first guy on the team to the last guy on the bench, we always found a way to fight.
Scottie Wilbekin is one of kind. You see a lot of players come out thinking they're the man, but he doesn’t have that. He just has confidence in what he does and that helps the team to win. He's not just telling us to do what we want. He's doing it the right way. We find ways through the offense to get him open and he gets the shots he can. But that comes with a lot of confidence and a lot of hard work. He puts in a lot of work when no one else is looking. They can see the success, but they don't know how much work he puts in.
Scottie has always had that confidence, that drive, that chip on his shoulder. It was all about the right moment, the right setting, the right group of guys around him to let him show what he can do at the highest level. He played the game the right way last year as a role player and this year he has taken over.
Coach Blatt finds a way to win. He's one of a kind as a coach. He gets his players to play their best, to commit to excellence, to work their tails off and have fun doing it. And he does it the right way, preserving our bodies, taking care of his players. Those are the things that make a good manager, a good coach. You have to understand what kind of team you have to be successful. He's done it before and I'm not surprised that he did it again with our team. He's a great strategist, a guy who gets you ready both mentally and X’s and O’s.
It was unbelievable to see how excited and how grateful the Darussafaka fans were, to see how much it meant to them and to the city. Even though there are all these sports teams and all these basketball teams in Istanbul, Darussafaka put in their point. It felt really great to be a part of it. I was really happy.
What a ride it's been. A surreal experience. Talking to my friends back home, my cousins, the way they put it to me is like: "You have one of the best jobs in the world! You picked up something, you loved it and look at you doing it for a living." It's one of those things I never dreamt of as a kid, because I wanted to play soccer, but here I am playing basketball and winning the EuroCup championship.
My parents keep up with the games on tv and the telephone. Sometimes they call my wife to check the stats and my wife tells them what's going on. My siblings in the U.S. were able to watch the game on the Internet. I am lucky to have family support around me, to encourage me to do the best I can.
Ten years ago I would never have thought this could be possible. But I have always had a positive outlook on life and believe that if you do good, good things will happen to you. I have tried to be good towards people and do the right things and here I am, reaping the benefits of good things.