On to the Quarterfinals!

Mar 09, 2012 by IVAN RADENOVIC - UKRAINE Print
On to the Quarterfinals!
Ivan Radenovic - BC Donetsk (Photo: BC Donetsk)Hello again, Eurocup fans. Yes, I’m back and yes, we managed to make it to the Eurocup Quarterfinals and win our Last 16 group! It is a great success not only for a young team like Donetsk, but also for Ukrainian basketball. We are very happy that we accomplished this result. We managed to beat Asvel at home and then went to Thessaloniki and downed Aris to finish first. We had nice support in our home game against Asvel - people were fully aware that a win would put us in the next round. We didn't have such a big crowd as we had against Khimki, but it was pretty good and helped us in the moments when we couldn't find our rhythm. We knew that Asvel plays tough and physical, so we kept the pressure on all game long. We managed to get a good lead in the fourth quarter and Ramel Curry played a great second half, also Vule Avdalovic, which helped to win that game.

We were looking forward to getting to Thessaloniki and experiencing some good weather, but you know what? Just as I arrived, I asked a Greek guy in the airport what the weather would be like and he said "you are not really lucky. It will rain the whole day tomorrow."

And he was right. It rained the whole day.

We had much better weather on Tuesday, but it was the day of the game, We did have a chance to enjoy the sun, even if it was for a second! The club is taking good care of us, flying us over two days in advance to face important games in the best condition. It helps a lot and we really appreciate that. The club really understands that it is really hard for us to travel so much - out of the last two weeks, we have been in Donetsk for just one night – and play at the highest level. They understand the importance of every Eurocup game. It helps us to have a good rhythm and to keep a good atmosphere in the team to carry on winning!

As you surely know, we play against Lietuvos Rytas in the Eurocup Quarterfinals. Every team you can face at this point is a good one, so you cannot really choose between facing Lokomotiv Kuban or Rytas - they are two very good teams challenging for a Euroleague spot. It will be a tough game, but we have our chances to advance and will do everything we can to go to the Finals. Of course, the matchup against Jonas Valanciunas will be interesting. He is a very talented big man - obviously. We will have to pay a lot of attention to him and try to stop him. He is doing really well in a small amount of minutes, putting out good numbers. We will have to do whatever we can to stop him or limit him. I know some of their players really well. Predrag Samardziski and Lawrence Roberts played for Partizan, Mindaugas Katelynas replaced me at Cajasol, and I am friends with Sasha Rasic. We know most of their other players very well, so I don't think there will be a lot of surprises.

I would like to talk about Vule in this blog entry. People kind of underestimated him because of his many injuries in recent years. He is playing a different role this year; Donetsk, its structure and the way we play is a great fit for him. He has done a really good job defensively as a lock-down player. He is a great team leader as a point guard that knows how to keep the rhythm of any kind of game. Vule has proved that he is a high-level player! We are roommates this season and I beat Vule at cards every day. That keeps my confidence up! I think he has only beaten me once in seven days! When I want to entertain myself and win at something, I play cards with him. We watch movies and read a lot of books. I know, I know, books and cards, it doesn't sound very exciting - but we travel and practice a lot, there is not a lot of free time. We rest, sleep and try to recuperate for the next games and practices. It got to a point where we get confused with hotel room numbers, forgetting them more often than we would like to!

Don't get me wrong, life in Ukraine is great. It has everything an athlete needs. Donetsk really takes care of everything - house service, cleaning and stuff like that. On the other hand, they have great restaurants which we can go to, bars, shopping centers and a lot of options to entertain ourselves whenever we have free time - which is not very often. I basically have all I need in Donetsk!

The good people at Eurocupbasketball.com want me to predict which teams will make it to the Eurocup Finals. I believe that Khimki is the best team in the Eurocup and since it hosts the Finals, they will have to make it and have the quality to do it. Spartak has played really well throughout the whole year and Valencia had some ups and downs, but I think they can make it to the Finals. These are the three teams I expect to see in Khimki when we get to the Finals!