Segafredo Virtus Bologna, back to the 7DAYS EuroCup for the first time since 2004, signed a lot of experienced players. One of them is versatile forward Kyle Weems, who at age 30 is right in the prime of his career. Weems is playing his third EuroCup season. He reached the EuroCup Finals with Strasbourg in 2016 but did not get past the regular season with Tofas Bursa last season. Weems will tell us all about his new life in Bologna as he tries to make Virtus meet its very high expectations in the 2019-20 7DAYS EuroCup.
These next two games are very critical. First thing's first, we play at home against Partizan. They played very well at home against us last time at the beginning of the Top 16. They shot the ball extremely well. So we're going to have to take care of that and guard the perimeter better and play overall better defense. I think we gave up 99, which is just not going to cut it at home in front of our fans on our own court. Obviously we understand the importance of, if we can take care of business, being able to move on in this competition. But first thing's first, hopefully, we can take care of Partizan and if we get that win and finish up strong on the road against a good Darussafaka team, we can get that home-court advantage in the next round.
We beat Trento in our last two games. We beat them pretty well here at home in the last game, but they are very physical. They have some undersized bigs who pop out instead of rolling a lot and in a way, it's kind of unorthodox the way that they play. Alessandro Gentile does a good job posting up. It's never easy beating a team three times in one month. We played them in the Italian League right after the new year and then the last two weeks in the EuroCup. So we're very familiar with them; they know what we like to do, we know what they can do well. I think it was very important for us to come out and impose our will on the game with our energy and effort and I think we did that for sure in the second half.
"There's no better feeling than having your own fate in your own hands."
As a professional athlete, you never want to worry about all the different scenarios. You want to take care of what you can take care of. There's no better feeling than having your own fate in your own hands. So we know that we have to go out and beat Partizan and go out and beat Darussafaka. If there are some other scenarios that allow us to progress to the quarterfinals first, that's great. But we know what's at stake. We play potentially the biggest game of our season at home and we need to be able to take advantage of that and capitalize on that.
I don't want to jinx anything or speak early, we have to take things one day at a time, one game at a time. But if we were able to qualify for the final eight with home-court advantage, and hopefully we could keep going and try to achieve our goal of getting to the finals and possibly win a championship, each step that you play, home court is very important, especially with a great fan base like we have.
In our first game against Partizan, they really came out and imposed their will on us from the jump ball. I felt like at the beginning of the game, we were down 3 at the end of the first quarter. When we started the second half, our energy wasn't the same as at the start of the game and we didn't share the ball. That's when we are really at our best; when the ball is moving and multiple guys are touching it on each possession, that's when we have better quality of shots, whether that's inside with our bigs or outside with our shooters. So it's important that we share the ball and make their defense work because they are a very well-coached team and a very good defensive team. I think it's also important for us to limit our turnovers and get back in transition. we had too many turnovers in that second quarter and also in a stretch of the third. So, limiting our turnovers, moving the ball and being physical are keys for us. It should be a good game.
I want to switch topics for a bit. For people of my generation, Kobe Bryant was kind of like Julius Erving, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird for the previous generation. The way he worked for everything that he had, the way he earned everything that he got. He was so well-rounded, he was very humble, he spoke different languages. There's just not a lot that this guy didn't do.
I think the thing that hit me the most, being a father, is that this can happen at any time. That you can just be just off this earth at any time is very humbling. I think that it's important to live your life to the fullest and enjoy every second. That's been my mindset since that news. And also that Kobe put a lot of sacrifices into his craft. And he was finally getting to be a father and giving all of his time and all of his commitment to his daughters and his wife. And that time was cut short and he was only retired for a few years. It's just really sad. I pray for his family. And it hits a little bit closer to home because obviously with our job, we fly so much and I have two boys and a wife myself. So I just try to live every day to its fullest.
"I just try to live every day to its fullest."
The EuroCup this season is very competitive. The fact that nobody has qualified for the quarterfinals yet after four games and that there are only two games to go, I think, speaks volumes on the competition and the field this year. The group with Promitheas Patras, Venice, Oldenburg and Brescia, everybody is 2-2 and it's similar in Monaco's group. I believe that's all you can ask for in a competition. There's parity. On any given night, you can lose by 15 to 20 at home or you can win a great game on the road. You just never know in this competition. I think that's what makes the EuroCup so special and I think that's what's going to make these next two games; this coming week and then after the break with the cups and the national teams, I think the last games in the first week of March are going to be pretty special. It should be fun to watch and keep track of.
,p>Another one of our goals that's coming up here in a couple of weeks is the Italian Cup. We've been fortunate to remain focused and take advantage of some big road wins and not lose any home games in the Italian League, which set us up pretty good as the No. 1 seed in the Italian Cup. So we have some good things to look forward to. We're not trying to get too high, we're not trying to get too low. We want to stay even-keeled, we've been working every day. Our practices have been really good and competitive. We have a great coach. Coach Sasa is going to make sure we're prepared at all times and we just have to go and execute. And we're excited about the Partizan home game.