First of all, I want to wish Chris Kramer a speedy recovery. Chris had recovered from a foot injury and we were waiting for him for two months. He came back and we had unbelievable chemistry on the team. We have a really great group of players this season, I want to underline this and use these words: We are a TEAM. So on Tuesday, when we found ourselves in this scenario, Chris getting injured like that in the middle of the game... it really affected us, to be honest. For a couple of minutes, we were thinking about that, not about the game. Still, the game went on and we were in it until the end of the third quarter. Valencia started to get offensive rebounds in the beginning of the fourth quarter, made some three-point shots and all of a sudden, they were up by 12-15 points and in full control.
Still, we were in the game for 30 minutes and showed we can play against them. It was the first game of the series and being that, a playoff series, we will have another chance. We are waiting for our chance here in Vilnius. It was crazy; everything went wrong. After the game, I had the doping control and I couldn't do it, so I had to wait for a couple of hours. I came back to the hotel really late after Game 1 because of this and we had an early flight to catch the following morning. Still, I don't like to make excuses. What happened, happened. We have a game on Friday and our main goal is to win it and go back to Valencia for Game 3.
"We will support Chris no matter what."
Chris is my roommate, so when I came back from the doping control situation, I was trying to choose what words I would say to him to avoid saying something wrong, but surprisingly, he was very optimistic and ready to joke around. He was able to make some jokes out of this bad situation. We were talking about everything in our room. He is tough and smart, plus he has the support of his whole family. The whole team is behind him, too, and we will support him no matter what. In the coming days, we will find out what the injury is. We can guess what it is, but as I am writing this, there is no official confirmation yet.
It is not like we did everything wrong. In general, we kept control in the first half. Valencia hit 10 of 35 shots before the break. We were focused for 25 minutes and following the game plan; I have to say that our coaches did a great job. We knew what we to expect in this game and were pretty well-prepared for it. It is obvious that it was us, the players, who made mistakes. We made individual mistakes on the court that allowed Valencia to break the game. We tried, but it was impossible to get back in the game. We showed our strength and showed we can play, but we have to completely forget about that game because we have a brand new game on Friday and I am sure it will be different from Game 1.
I want to say a big thank you to our fans; there were around 100, maybe 150 Lithuanian fans in the stands and some of them came all the way from Vilnius! From the first day I came here, we've had fans at every single road game, following us, wherever we play. What I can say? I really respect that and know how much effort and how much time, energy and money they spend to support us. That really means a lot to us. I hope we give all these guys the opportunity to come back to Valencia and watch us play again. A couple of our fans had a car accident going to Warsaw to take a flight to come to Valencia, but that didn't stop them. They kept going and made it to the game. Thanks a lot!
"I think we deserve to take the series to a third and final game."
We have been strong at home lately; Siemens Arena is our living room. We don't want anyone to come into our living room and do whatever they want. In Siemens Arena, we want to control the game and give our best in front of our fans. It will be a sellout, I am pretty sure. The building will be full of Rytas fans and together I am confident we will play a good game. I believe in our group of guys and I believe we can win the next game. I think we deserve to take the series to a third and final game.
People have been waiting for some time now; I have read a lot of support messages on social media. Rytas has not been in the EuroCup Quarterfinals for a long time, since 2012, so everybody is aware of this opportunity and ready for this game. For us, the players, we don't want to think about the past or the future; we are living in the present and trying to do our best. Right after Game 1, we were already completely focused on Game 2 in Vilnius. We don't like it when someone comes in our house and takes control of it, and this is the same. We want to defend our territory, our house, as much as we can.
In basketball, sometimes you create good, open shots and they just won't go in. That could have affected our game. We tried to find other solutions but it sometimes happens. This is why I say that the next game will be a bit different; if we score some of these open shots, the game can go in a completely different direction. Aggressiveness, mentality, confidence and the right mindset will be the keys for us on Friday. Rytas fans, see you there!