Xavi Rabaseda, Gran Canaria: 'We are like a family'

Nov 14, 2017 by Xavi Rabaseda - Las Palmas, Spain Print
Xavi Rabaseda, Gran Canaria: 'We are like a family'

Well, it has been a while since I last blogged and a lot of things have happened in the meantime. We have climbed into first place in our 7DAYS EuroCup group. We had to fight hard to beat Trento at home and also won on the road after losses in Bursa and Ulm. We won in France against a tough, physical ASVEL team that had been playing well at home, and even beat Zenit St. Petersburg despite losing by like 10 points with 2 minutes left. They were able to rally and win! We were really focused against ASVEL from the very beginning and everyone was able to contribute. It was an important win, as we are now tied for first place with two other teams. Winning on the road is tough in the EuroCup, but even tougher in our group, as results are showing: three road wins in 15 games played. It was critical for us.

The game against Trento was tough, too, because Dominique Sutton had an unbelievable first half. We had played against him last season, in preseason, because Gran Canaria always plays against ratiopharm Ulm in a friendly game. We had already noticed him as a very unique player, a small forward who plays like a power forward but is just 1.94 meters tall or so. How is that possible? Truth is, he doesn't back down against anyone. He jumps, is physical, plays defense, is athletic and goes against anyone from the point guard to the power forward. He opened the game with a couple of three-pointers and had like 14 points in the first 6 minutes. Completely on fire! But we won the game, which is what matters. We have a tall team, with great size and good balance among our outside shooters, too. Once we lose that balance, then our chances to win decline. Still, we are 3-2 in the EuroCup, tied for first place and 5-3 in the Spanish League. We've won all of our home games until now in both competitions.

Let me tell you about the core of our team, those who have been here the longest: Eulis Baez, Albert Oliver, Oriol Pauli, Pablo Aguilar, Anzejs Pasecniks and me. We also have players who have left and returned, like D.J. Seeley, who was with Maccabi last year but is back for his second season with us. All of us know each other well. We are like a family. Ondrej Balvin has been in the Spanish League for many years, then Oriol and I knew Marcus Eriksson from our years with FC Barcelona... In that sense, we all know each other very well and that is always an advantage when compared to other EuroCup teams that are newer every year.

Eulis is the boss, the team captain. He is a hot-blooded Dominican, the kind of player everybody listens to. His strong character and fighting spirit is why he has been here for six years. He is one of our leaders along with Albert, who is 39 years old and will turn 40 in June. He keeps playing very well and wants to continue playing for as long as they let him. He loves basketball, has a lot of fun and it's what he does best, no question about it. He always says that he wouldn't have this much fun in any other job. It is a way of life for him, and an example for everyone.

As I write this, we are on our way to St. Petersburg, where we play Zenit on Tuesday.

On the road especially, I keep watching series, of course. I am catching up on Ray Donovan and am already in season four, which I started today. I am also midway through season two of Stranger Things. I don't want to finish Stranger Things in a couple of days, so I am watching Ray Donovan a lot no matter how many cliffhangers Stranger Things may have. I like it a lot and don't want it to be over. Ray Donovan just finished season five, so I still have a lot of episodes left. I have a love-hate relationship with Mickey Donovan, Ray's father, played by Jon Voigt. He always figures out a way to be hated! He has good things, but in the end, he does his best to be a liability for Ray and his brothers. I wouldn't like him to be my father! D.J. Seeley was right, it is a great show. I will ask him for more recommendations.

We arrived at 16:30 local time and practiced at like 20:00, so we had a few hours to stretch our legs and see the city before we get back to business. We were hoping to see Kyle Kuric, our ex-teammate, and his kids before practice. As far as I understand, St. Petersburg has a reputation for being the most beautiful city in Russia. It is really close to Finland and Estonia, so I expect it to be more European-like than cities further away from Western Europe. We will not have much time to see anything, because we will be focused on the game. Don't forget, we woke up in Spain at 6:30 a.m., so getting rest is what matters because we have an important game to play.

You have to adjust to the time difference, too. There is a three-hour difference between Gran Canaria and St. Petersburg. For Russian teams coming to Gran Canaria Arena, 20:30 local time is 23:30 in their countries. With us, is the other way around. We will adjust, of course, this cannot be an excuse for anyone. Playing on the road is always tough because your opponent is in its own arena and is completely adjusted to the environment, whatever it is. We and Zenit are both fighting for our fourth wins in a very competitive group. This game can tell us how ambitious we are and how we can improve as a team.

It is a great opportunity to show that not only do we want to advance to the Top 16, but we want to do it as the top team in this group, which would be a good first step to having a great season. For that, we need more wins on the road and this is what we came for. Wish us luck!