They said it: 'That's the way we have to play'

Dec 14, 2019 by Print
They said it: 'That's the way we have to play'

The intensity and passion that characterizes the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this week spilled over into the post-game discussions, as well. Here is some of the best of what this week's protagonists, both winners and losers, had to say following their games.

Yellow fever is back

"I want to congratulate our fans. I think today was the most powerful support we've had during my career here...They gave maximum support." – Ioannis Sfairopoulos

Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv lacked three injured three starters while falling behind 14 points in the second quarter to defending champion CSKA Moscow on Thursday. From there, however, Maccabi rode a 60-36 finish to its third consecutive win, 90-80, and its best record, 9-5, since the EuroLeague's change of format in 2016. Menora Mivtachim Arena was jumping like back in the day, and head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos appreciated the fans becoming a true and much-needed sixth man by giving his team every boost that it needed.

Tale of two halves

"That second half, that's the way we have to play defense. The first half was something that, if we want to be successful in this league, that's something we can't do." – Anthony Gill

After giving up 51 first-half points to visiting ALBA Berlin on its home floor on Thursday, Khimki Moscow Region's players had a defensive epiphany, holding the visitors to 36 points the rest of the way to cruise to a 104-87 win. Scoring is a given for Khimki, but forward Anthony Gill said his team learned a hard lesson despite a score that made the game look easier.

Eight in a row

"The competition is very demanding, and if you relax a little bit any team can beat you. I am obviously happy with the winning streak and the way my team is playing." – Pablo Laso

For all its great results over the years, eight wins in a row is nothing ordinary for Real Madrid. The club record is 13 from the 2013-14 season, and Los Blancos won nine straight two years later. Eight matches their third-longest steak, but head coach Pablo Laso knows that in a season when CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul have five and eight losses, respectively, not even the biggest powerhouses can take anything for granted.

On the rise

Jaume Ponsarnau - Valencia Basket Media Day 2019 - EB19

"We had control of the situation, but with the heart of Zalgiris Kaunas, you have to fight the entire game. We are happy that this is our first road win, but we are the most happy that we are improving our competitive level." – Jaume Ponsarnau

Five wins in its last seven games have boosted Valencia Basket from last place to a tie for 11th but perhaps none of them was as uplifting as the team's first road win, 82-86 at Zalgiris Kaunas on Friday. It is one thing to be strong at home, head coach Jaume Ponsarnau noted, but another altogether to do what it takes to win a EuroLeague road game, especially in Zalgirio Arena, where Zalgiris has such great support on all given nights. If there was a clear sign that Valencia is a team to watch out for going forward, this was it.

A travel tip

"We have to take this aggressiveness to the next games coming up. We were focused for 40 minutes today and that is the difference between our home and road games. We are more focused at home. We need to keep that for the next road game." – Danilo Barthel

There's another EuroLeague team that would like to confirm its best form the way that Valencia did. FC Bayern Munich's fifth win of the season, a solid 77-69 decision over Zenit St Petersburg on Friday, came with the caveat that it happened at home, just like all the others. Stick-to-itiveness was required by Bayern to hold off a Zenit team that is nothing if not relentless. In his team's persistence, power forward Danilo Barthel saw a lesson for the challenge that Bayern faces going forward: winning away from home.