We have to keep it going!

Apr 06, 2015 by Brad Newley Print
We have to keep it going!

It's nice to be blogging again! I've had the opportunity to share my thoughts on these pages before when I played for Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in the Euroleague. Now I’m doing it with Gran Canaria… And maybe we'll make it to the Euroleague too! But first we have a lot of work to do, even though we are in a good position. In fact, I don’t know that we could have asked to be in a better position after our first Eurocup semifinal game on the road at Unics Kazan. We won 70-83!

I think the key was that we came out very aggressive defensively. And we played together on offense. That’s why we had the great start. We knew Kazan is a good team and we prepared. We got the victory, but as we all know, they are a good team, so nothing is over yet. It’s amazing what happens when you play good defense. It leads to easy baskets and that gave us confidence.

We are not satisfied with what we have done yet. In the locker room after the game, there were no big celebrations or anything. It was pretty clam. We didn’t get carried away. We spoke about how it’s an 80-minute game and we’ve only played 40 minutes. It's pretty much like halftime, so we need to stay focused to win Game 2 on our court. Then we can celebrate… a little.

We are all aware of what happened in the previous round to Lokomotiv Kuban. Lokomotiv went to Kazan and won the first game by 9 points. But Kazan came back a week later and won in Kuban. And Kazan has the talent to be able to come back and make up the difference again. So we are not reading too much into it. We are just treating it as another game right now.

Anyone that follows my one Twitter – my handle is @BradNewley – might notice that I sometimes tweet out our travel itineraries. And if we are doing something unusual, like taking a ferry to get to Bandirma like in the Last 32 to get to Bandirma, Turkey, I use little emoticons to show that too. Well the trip to Kazan went a lot smoother that you might have expected. What could have been a really long and tiring journey was cut almost in half because our team got us a charter flight! And we are very appreciative of it. It ended up being only about a six-and-a-half or seven-hour journey. It was very comfortable for us. It was great. We appreciate it. It was a good trip. The result paid off. It worked.

I saw in an article the other day in a local newspaper that we’ve traveled the equivalent of a lap of the world this season. We’ve done a lot of traveling and we feel we deserve to be here doing what we’re doing because we're doing the traveling and playing well.

What we have done so far this season in getting to the semifinals is huge for the club. It’s the furthest we’ve ever been in Europe. The last few years we’ve had a lot of success and this is probably one of the biggest things to happen. We really hope that all our fans get behind us and fill the arena for the next game.

I love this club. It’s like a family for me. I’m very happy here. My family is happy here. It's a good place to be. Coming from Australia, where it’s a pretty laid back kind of lifestyle, that’s the way it is on the island. So I'm happy here and hope to keep having success in Gran Canaria. The people are very similar here to the people in Australia. Our national team, the Boomers, played here during the World Cup and a lot of the Australian families said this is like home for us. They really enjoyed it. It matches up very similarly.

This is my second Eurocup semifinal. I was lucky to get there with Valencia in 2012 and we lost in the final. This time I hope we can go one step further and win the whole thing. But first we have to get through the semis and into the final.

Of course winning would be a dream. I would love to do that. A lot of Australian players have won Eurocup and Euroleague titles in recent years, like David Andersen, Joe Ingles, Matt Nielsen. They're all very good friends of mine. If we did it, it would be something I could talk about whenever we're all together in the future. Right now it’s only half over. We still have a lot of work to do.

I think the key for us in Game 2 will be playing good defense. They have some great individual talent. I don’t think they played really well in Game 1. We need to do the things we did well. And maybe adjust a few other things. If our mentality is good, we should be fine. I’m very confident. Of course if Keith Langford is available for them, that could make a big difference. He can easily score 20 points in a game. He's a proven player in the Euroleague and wherever he’s played. But we’ll prepare for Kazan with or without him.

Our big weapon in Game 1 was our big guy, Walter Tavares. He's like a big kid, despite his height! He's so tough. He's adjusting really well in really only his second full season. He's playing against some very good players and matching with the best players in Europe. I think he's at a very good level right now. We have a good mix of age on the team. I think it’s good for him to have some of the older guys around, like Levon Kendall and Albert Oliver. I think he's really enjoying the team atmosphere that we have.

We play a really good team game. On any given night any player can be good. If you look at how we play, it's not having one guy dominate; it’s having everybody do a little to help. And I think that's why we’ve had so much success in the Eurocup. Now we are just one win from the finals! Let’s go cracks! Keep fighting! Vamos Granca!