Sergey Monya, BC Khimki Moscow Region

Apr 11, 2012 by Frank Lawlor, Print
Sergey Monya, BC Khimki Moscow Region
Sergey Monya - BC Khimki (photo Monya is among BC Khimki’s most versatile and most experienced players. A veteran of multiple Euroleague Final Fours, in addition to a previous appearance in the Eurocup semifinals, Monya knows a thing or two about big games. Moreover, having played the vast majority of his career in and around Moscow – including the 2005 Euroleague Final Four with CSKA in the Russian capital – Monya is well versed in what it takes to compete for trophies there. This season has been one of Monya's best. Monya leads Khimki in rebounds and blocked shots and is taking and making more three-pointers than at any point in his career. Monya also has one motivation that sets him apart from any other Eurocup Finals participant: he turns 29 on Sunday, the day the 2012 Eurocup trophy will be handed out. "I must confess that I’ll try to give myself a fantastic present," Monya told "I will try to do my best, but only through the game can we show who we are. The main thing is not to burn out and to be ready for everything.”

First of all, Sergey, how does it feel to have the Eurocup Finals coming to your home court this week?

“Everything is pretty good. Of course, everyone expects good games and we want to win the Eurocup. Now all of our thoughts are only about Saturday and Sunday.”

Your team targeted this event from the start of the season. How difficult has it been to qualify?

“We played a lot of games and lost only twice – to Donetsk and Lokomotiv Kuban on the road – and now we are in the finals. I think that we deserve to be here; we are among four best teams and a lot of people consider BC Khimki to be the favorite to win. Now the games will decide…”

Now, after qualifying, is there more pressure or more advantages to playing the Eurocup Finals at home?

“For sure, there is some kind of pressure, because we know BC Khimki assumed the obligations of hosting the Eurocup Finals; it’s a great responsibility and everyone here wants to win: players, staff, management – and that’s a good thing. The club set a high target and all of us must try to reach it. We’ll do all our best. Also, we have some guy s on the team who have already won the Eurocup, like Thomas Kelati and Matt Nielsen. Hopefully, their experience will help us.”

Having had two tough Russian League games with Spartak, what can you say about your opponent in the semifinal?

“Spartak is a very good team with a competent coach in Jure Zdovc; the roster is also great. We beat them twice in the Russian League, but those games were quite hard for us. They were both decided in the closing minutes. The first game even had two overtimes. Spartak is a serious rival and has hardly lost in the Eurocup. I imagine it will be a very interesting game for the fans.”

You lead Khimki in rebounding and blocks this season. Do you consider those to be your main roles on the floor?

“I don’t think so, no. It just turned out like that; in some games I have blocked a couple of shots, in others I have taken more rebounds. The main thing is to try to do my best and to maximize my efforts to help my team win.”

Yet also have the most three-point shots made in your Eurocup or Euroleague career this season. What's working for you to hit so many threes at such a high rate, 40%?

“I like making threes, but in recent games my shooting percentage has dropped. I probably need to change something. I shoot a lot because we play a team game and coach tells me to shoot three-pointers when I’m open, so I do. The result is the most threes I have made yet…”

Khimki has six players with 2 or more assists per game and the most team assists, 19.2, in Eurocup history. What's it like playing on a team that shares the ball so well?

Sergey Monya - BC Khimki (Photo“It’s a very good thing when the ball moves around the court, because on some teams only one player has ball and the other four stand around and look at him – that’s not Khimki’s philosophy. I would like to especially point out that we play a team game. Everyone on Khimki touches the ball, all the guys are great scorers. You know, we have very close stats: four or five guys might score between 10 and 15 points on any given night. When we play like that, it’s easier for the whole team to play. I suppose we could even get more assists per game, but the main thing is to play the ball inside to our big men in the paint.”

You had a lot of Euroleague Final Four experience early in your career. Can that experience help you this weekend in the Eurocup Finals?

“I think so. Every experience, doesn’t matter positive or negative, is good for you. I’m not a very young player; I have changed enough teams so that this experience will be useful for me. We’ll also have two games in two days, which is very difficult. We’ll try to do all our best, we have 12 players and I’m sure everyone will perform at 100 percent because the ultimate goal is a victory.”

As someone on the host team, and someone who has played many years in Moscow, what can fans visiting Khimki this weekend expect in terms of basketball devotion there?

“I think all the fans will have great time in Khimki. It’s nice place to live. As for our Basketball Center, it’s a great arena – the stands are always full, especially when top teams play. The atmosphere is delicious, a lot of people come with families, friends. Now for the Eurocup Finals, the level of excitement is very high, so it will be great. I would like to invite the fans to support us during this weekend, we feel their support and will try to do our maximum to win the Eurocup.”

What would it mean to you to lift the trophy on Sunday?

“First of all, it will mean that everything we have done was not in vain, all our training, games, endless flights, etc. Last year we won VTB United League Cup and scored second place in Russian championship. As for this very season, we want to be first in the first tournament we have reached the final in. It will be a prize that I will remember all my life. Secondly, Sunday is my birthday, so I must confess that I’ll try to give myself a fantastic present. I will try to do my best, but only through the game can we show who we are. The main thing is not to burn out and to be ready for everything.”