Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
Corey Brewer, KK Zadar
Mar 17, 2008
by Frank Lawlor, ULEBCup.com
In just four seasons, Zadar guard Corey Brewer has made his mark on the ULEB Cup in more than one way. Brewer has scored the second-most points among all players in the history of the competition, 828, as well as compiling the seventh-most assists and steals. More impressive is how far he has brought his teams - one of them to two semifinals, and another to the title game. Zadar brings a five-point lead into the second game of the Last 16, on the road Wednesday at Pamesa Valencia, the original champion of the competition in 2002-03. Brewer's long memory tells him it's no easy task, but if Zadar gets through, it will be just as important as his previous successes in the ULEB Cup. "If I can help get this team to the next round, it's an accomplishment," Brewer told ULEBcup.com, "something no one ever expected."
You and Zadar are one step away from the Final Eight. How do you guys feel about giving yourselves this chance on Wednesday?
"For us, we're happy to be in this position, right here. We wish we could have won the first game against Pamesa by more points, but sometimes that's just how it goes in basketball. Now, we have to go to Spain to play as hard as we can and hope to get lucky. The six points between us aren't much - two three-pointers - so we just have to really make sure that we come in and play strong. They have a good team, are doing well in the Spanish League, one of the strongest domestic leagues, with a lot of teams doing well in the ULEB Cup, and you have to respect that. We just need to come in and play as well as we can play. We need to play our best game."
After a slow start, Zadar went on an extraordinary winning streak in the Adriatic League and finished second in its ULEB Cup group. What turned things around?
"I think just our mental approach to the game. We were able to concentrate on what we want to do against each team. And then we were able then to do it. We had some games that were hard but our confidence at the end of them that we could win it made the difference. Everything jelled together. There was nothing individual: it was a whole team thing. That's what made it work once we got the winning streak going. It was team basketball."
Your home court has been a constant boost, but Zadar has just one ULEB Cup road win. What are your thoughts going into a road game that will decide whether the team makes the Final Eight?
"We have to learn from every other game we played on the road, what not to do, mainly, in those critical moments near the end, in order to win this one. We had a lot of road games we should have won but lost by a point or two due to little mistakes at the end that the other team punished. In Valencia, whatever mistakes we make will punished, too, so we have to be smarter."
Aleksandar Petrovic is one of the most respected coaches in Europe, a former great player with great basketball IQ. How does it feel to play with him in Zadar?
"He's been real good for me after I came out of Belgium last season injured. Over the summer, I wanted to get the right situation to help get myself back on track. He called and asked me to come to Zadar, and the truth is it's been really good. He's allowed me to play the way I want to play, trying to control the team and helping the team win."
Having scored the second-most points in ULEB Cup history, have you found a home in this competition?
"For the first few years, we were doing well, both me individually and my teams, Estudiantes and Aris. That helped me to be able to really find myself in this league. This year with Zadar it's been a question of winning respect for the team. There have been some difficult games in which sometimes we didn't seem to get as much respect as the stronger team. Now, we'll try to prove again that we deserve it."
As someone who played the first ULEB Cup season in 2002-03, not to mention reached the final in 2006, how do you see the development of competition, in terms of playing level, competitiveness and talent?
"From year to year this competition is getting stronger and stronger. A lot of teams all over are spending money to build strong teams to compete in this league. This year's is one of the strongest yet, with the possible exception of the year when I played with Aris in the final against Dynamo. That was a really strong year."
Having been to the semifinals twice with Estudiantes and the final with Aris, how much do you think on the goal of finally winning an ULEB Cup title someday?
"I'm thinking about that, but you've got to be lucky, man. There's always a right time and right place to get to the finals. I hope we have that luck this year."
What would it mean for you personally to take Zadar to the Final Eight?
"Having been on stronger teams before, to now be on a team that maybe people considered not so strong, and to be able get into a situation to prove everybody wrong, says a lot. It says doesn't matter where you are. If you lift yourself and your team to a different level, I would mark that, for me in my career, as an accomplishment. If I can help get this team to the next round, it's an accomplishment, something no one ever expected."
You made a fashion statement with yellow shoes the year Aris reached the final. Will you make another in a Zadar uniform if you make the Final Eight?
"I need those shoes now! I couldn't find the right ones here in Zadar. If I could find them, even in yellow, I'd wear them in the Zadar uniform, which is blue and white. They brought me a lot of success."