Paul Davis, Cajasol Sevilla
|In his first full season in Europe, Paul Davis of Cajasol Sevilla has had a major impact in his team's Eurocup debut. Davis has been one of the most dominant forces in the competition, overcoming a slow start to explode in the Last 16. He averaged 16.7 points on 62.9% shooting, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals in that phase, helping Cajasol register five consecutive wins and seal its passage to the Quarterfinals with a game to spare. Davis has already been named to the All-Eurocup second team, but is far from being done. He has a trip to the NCAA Final Four under his belt from his days with Michigan State University and is ready to handle the pressure of playing Benetton Basket Bwin in its home court at Palaverde. After splitting a pair of Last 16 games with Benetton, Davis and his teammates cannot wait to face the team again, as he told us in this Eurocupbasketball.com interview. "We did it against all odds. Nobody thought that we would get here. We are just looking forward to getting the game going," Davis told Eurocupbasketball.com. "We want to get done with the practices and the waiting, get on the court and play."
Hello Paul, congratulations on reaching the Eurocup Finals. How has the season been for you and your team so far?
"I think we struggled a bit in the beginning. We had a new team with a lot of new guys and we needed some time to get used to playing with each other. As the season has moved on, we have felt more comfortable and I think it showed not only in the Spanish League, but also in the Eurocup. We are here in the Finals and are ready to leave our mark in the Eurocup. I don't know too many people that thought that we would end up here, but we always knew we had the ability and talent to do it."
This is your first Eurocup season - not to mention your first full season in Europe. How do you like the competition?
"I like it! It is great playing against teams from different countries and different styles of play. It is a little bit more physicals and overall, it is great to be on the road and travel to all these different countries and arenas - the atmosphere, the culture, countries I have never been to... it is really something good. When I am done playing basketball at some point I will look back and see that I played the game all around the world against the best."
You were chosen to the All-Eurocup second team. How honored do you feel about that?
"It is definitely special, being my first year in the competition. It is great individual honor, but my teammates helped me a lot to achieve that. Now it is time focus on the Finals and hopefully play even better to come out as the champions."
You already played twice against Benetton this season. What do you think about the team?
"They are a tough team, especially at home. It will be difficult, but that will make it much better if we manage to beat them. We know what we are going into - the court, the team and how their fans are going to be. I think that having played them not only twice, but also in Treviso, is an advantage."
Do you think that knowing each other a bit is going to have a big impact in the semifinals?
"We didn't play a good game in Treviso - as a team, we were kind of tired. We have a couple of long trips and a tough schedule at the time. We will put all that behind us. Every team wants the championship just as much as everyone else. It is going to be a good weekend. We are mentally preparing for everything and I think that the team that makes less mistakes will be the winners."
Cajasol head coach Plaza won the Eurocup in the past. What is it like to play for him, a defensive-minded coach?
"It is different, I had to get used to it coming from the United States, where a lot of things are very different. It took me a little while to adapt to them, just as some of the new guys did. He is tough coach, always looking for perfection. You want a coach like that; you don't want to be okay just with being average. He has a lot of enthusiasm every single day, in every game. He has the drive and the passion to push us - and that is the reason why we are here."
Louis Bullock also won the Eurocup and Tariq Kirksay has been in the competition for many years. Does that experience give you an edge in the Finals?
"Yes, it helps. It is always important to have veteran guys that have been there. We have some young guys in the team, but they are ready to learn and are all ears. It definitely helps to have someone to kind of guide them. I played in the NCAA Final Four in front of 50,000 people, so I have some experience with the pressure of the event. I think we have a good mix and whenever it comes playoffs time - NBA, college, Spanish League - having veterans that have been there before is a real help."
You have the privilege of living in Seville. How do you like the city and how excited are Cajasol fans about the Eurocup Finals?
"The city is great - the weather is obviously great. It has a lot of history. I have been able to see all of it in the year that I have been here. It is really great, and I know our fans are behind us. For the first time in the history of the team, Cajasol has reached an event like this. We want to take full advantage of it. We want do it for each other - the players, the coaches - but also for the people that have supported us all year."
Last but not least, what would it mean for you and for the city of Seville to win the Eurocup title?
"It would bring a lot more fans and recognition to the game of basketball here in Seville. Football is still the biggest sport here, but we have some great fans and I think that winning will bring even more. For Cajasol and also for myself, to have a championship of this caliber and to have the chance to play in the Euroleague is a great accomplishment. We did it against all odds. Nobody thought that we would get here. We are just looking forward to getting the game going. We want to get done with the practices and the waiting, get on the court and play."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011