What's happening, world? It's Matt Thomas of Valencia basket here with my third blog entry of the season. Much has happened since my last post, and I'm eager to get you caught up to speed! So without further ado, let's get started!
The last time you heard from me it was right before the holidays and we were still in the first phase of the 7DAYS EuroCup season. The holidays is always a little tough for me being away from my friends and family from back in the States. It just doesn't feel quite right being here alone. I'm also used to snow on Christmas, and who knows the last time it snowed in Valencia?! To be honest though, I don't miss the snow at all. Thankfully, technology is amazing and I was able call and FaceTime my friends and family on Christmas Day. I also got together with some of my teammates and their families here in Valencia to celebrate. It's pretty neat being part of a team because we are together so much that we truly become like a second family. I've always loved that about playing team sports.
"We are together so much that we truly become like a second family."
In the next few weeks and months, I have some trips set for some of my friends and family from the States to come and visit me here in Valencia. I'm looking forward to showing them the city and everything I'm able to experience while living abroad in Europe. They will also be able to watch some great basketball as the EuroCup Playoffs will get going here soon, in March! I'm also excited for Falles in March here in Valencia. I've heard it is quite a sight to see, and an event the entire city really embraces! Other than that, life in Valencia hasn't changed much for me. I'm still really enjoying the city and everything it has to offer. It's nice having teammates such as Rafa [Martinez], Dubi [Bojan Dubljevic] and Sam [Van Rossom], who have all been in Valencia for many years. Because they are so familiar with the city, I can always go to them for advice on things to do, places to see, or where to find the best paella!
Our most recent game in EuroCup was on the road in Malaga against Unicaja. The start of the game couldn't have gone much worse for us. We were down 13-1, their crowd was involved, and they had all the momentum. We slowly started getting back into the game to cut the difference to 10 by halftime. After trading blows throughout the second half we ended up winning by 3 points. We showed a lot of grit, toughness and character, and I feel like we grew as a team that night. It was a good win for us considering the early deficit we overcame and the fact that Unicaja is a very good team, but that's all it was. We know it was just a small step in our journey of reaching our ultimate goal. More meaningful games will come down the road in the playoffs, and I can't wait for that.
Our next and final EuroCup game of the Top 16 is at home vs. Limoges. Currently we are 5-0 in our group and we hope to finish with one more win so we can put ourselves in the best possible situation come playoff time. As of now, the team we will match up with in the first round of playoffs is still up in the air. We could play either Rytas Vilnius or AS Monaco. Both are very talented and well coached teams. On a personal level it would be cool to match up with Rytas. One of my former teammates from last season in Obradorio, Eimantas Bendzius, currently plays for them. I was messaging with him after his team won a close game at Partizan last week about the possible matchup in the next round.
"We showed a lot of grit, toughness and character, and I feel like we grew as a team that night."
Even though it's just my first year playing in Valencia I am fully aware of the history, past successes and high expectations the team carries when participating in the EuroCup. I have really enjoyed the ride so far this EuroCup season, but I believe the best is yet to come for our team. If we continue to take things one day and one game at a time I am confident that we can achieve our ultimate goal of winning a championship.
That's all I have for the time being. Make sure to stay tuned for my next post in the near future!