Another step together or just goodbye?

Mar 29, 2010 by YUVAL NAIM, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL Print
Another step together or just goodbye?
Yuval Naimy - Hapoel Jerusalem (Photo: Hapoel Jerusalem)Hello, everyone! I am not sure if this will be my last blog, but anyway I hope that I have given you a bit of insight of what life is like on a Eurocup team.

It has been a hard first week of the quarterfinals, and it looks like it's going to be harder. We all expected a tough game against Alba and it has been just that: tough. Although we played the first game at home, we know that at this level home games are not something you can rely on. Just look at Bilbao's win at Nymburk and Valencia beating Aris in Thessaloniki, a very tough place to play. Alba had beaten DKV Joventut in Badalona and we already had a loss at home, against Valencia, so we felt it would be a mountain to climb.

The whole city was talking about the game. Everybody tried to get tickets. Everybody wanted to be a part of the last European night in our gym for this season. It was a great experience and at some points we felt that we could win big. But that was not possible against Alba. They are tough, discipline and well organized. I give them a lot of credit for the way they played, and of course, I give us some credit, too, for winning by six points, 67-61. I wish it was more, but a win is a win is a win. We are happy with a win and we go to Germany with the purpose of winning, too.

It is Passover this week, one of the most holy celebrations for the Jewish people. For me, religion is an important factor in my life and it is not easy to mix it together with professional basketball, but I manage to do it. On Passover, we do not eat bread and any pasta or rice, among the many rules that we abide by. In that way, it might be a bit hard for me to eat well in Berlin while we are there, but I know as always that my faith gives me a lot of strength.

It has been a long European season, from the qualification round against Roanne until the last game of the quarterfinals in Berlin. We all feel we can make this last, giant leap to Vitoria, but we know that we have to be at our best to beat Alba. It looks like Hapoel Jerusalem always adds something special for this competition. The group stages have been very tight: we beat Zadar by 19 points, they beat us by 17. Then in the second group stage, we lost to Kazan by 7 and we beat them by 9. And then we had the games against Valencia, each winning on the other's floor. If I look at the other three series in the quarterfinals, ours is the tightest, although the game in Gran Canaria with Panellinios visiting will be very interesting.

Before I bid you all farewell (yes, with the hope of writing another blog for the Eurocup Finals) I would like to predict the four teams that will reach Vitoria for that weekend to decide a champion, April 17 and 18. I cannot get over the feeling that it will be a mini "Copa del Rey" of three Spanish teams, Valencia, Bilbao and Gran Canaria. The fourth team will be…well, you're going to have to wait and see….but I have a feeling that you would be happy to read some more of my thoughts…lol!