|Montepaschi Siena forward David Moss gained valuable experience as a Euroleague rookie last season. As the starting small forward for Siena, he was a full participant in a memorable playoffs series against Olympiacos Piraeus. Moss and his teammates suffered the low of a 48-point blowout loss in Game 1 and celebrated the high of three straight wins to eliminate the Reds and reach the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. In his second season, Moss is hungry for more as Siena faces a playoffs rematch with Olympiacos starting Wednesday, with a ticket to the 2012 Final Four in Istanbul going to the best-of-five series winner. Moss has been among the pillars of Siena’s success this season, contributing aggressive defense and excellent three-point shooting that have been vital to many victories. In fact, Moss enters the playoffs as the eighth most accurate three-point shooter in Euroleague history, having made 45.8% of his shots from beyond the arc over two seasons. As for defense, Moss has little doubt that this and any series will turn on being able to stop his opponent, as he said in a Euroleague.net interview on the eve of the playoffs. “That's the plan. Defense is what is going to help you win games,” Moss said. “We have that same intensity. We have a few different players, but we still have the same court values. I don't think we have changed our values as a team to win games. We have to defend.”
Hello, David. First and foremost, how excited are you to be back in the Euroleague Playoffs, with the chance to play another Final Four?
"I'm very excited. As a team we just can't wait to get going and start with the first game. We wanna get back and redeem ourselves from last year. And show that we can compete to win the title."
Once again, it's you against Olympiacos in the playoffs. What do you remember most about last season's series?
"I remember when we lost the first game. And just coming back and winning those next games and pulling through. But losing like that was embarrassing, so we don't want that to happen again. That's what we remember about that series."
Even though you guys won that series and got revenge, does that 50-point loss last year in Game 1 serve now as a reminder to come out stronger this time?
"Well, it's not that we weren't focused. We just came out flat. We were prepared but we came out flat. It was just a bad game. From that moment on, I'd say, we were more in tune with what was going on at that moment and it was the biggest thing. Now we know what to expect and to be prepared to face the game accordingly."
You will have the home-court advantage this time around. How critical do you expect that to be this season?
"You know, I like having that but every team is a good team. Anybody can be beaten in any game and in any place, so I am very happy to have that chance. But knowing that we must be prepared and that anybody can be beat, at home or on the road, we have to be ready the same way both at home and on the road."
You are posting better numbers this season and playing with a lot of consistency at both ends of the floor. How did your first year in the Euroleague help you to play better this season?
"Well, I would say just being out there on the court helps. This year I had more opportunities, more playing time. We lost a couple players, so I had to step up and play better. Being injury free and healthy, I have to keep taking advantage of the opportunity I have. But last year was definitely a big help. I think that once you play your first game in the Euroleague, you are ready because you see the type of situation you are in immediately and either you adjust or you don't."
You have coach Pianigiani's full confidence, leading all wing players in minutes per game. How much does that confidence from Coach Pianigiani mean to you?
"It means a lot you know. I know what he expects of me. Whenever I am out there, I am happy to give all the energy that I have and all the effort. And I know that is what he expects. That's what I set out to do this year, to play hard and give whatever I can to the team. So when I'm out there, that's what I do and if I don't, I won't be out there. It was a learning experience last year, I understand it, and it's good to have this kind of confidence."
As opposed to this time last year, Montepaschi will have a healthy Bo McCalebb and a Final Four veteran in David Andersen. How much can those two players help you to win the series?
"A lot definitely. When you see us play, Dave opens up the court for the perimeter players and his post presence helps us a lot more. And Bo, what Bo does speaks for itself. What he brings, the energy he brings to the team, when he gets going and playing defense and getting those fast breaks going, he does it really well. When you play in a series like this, possessions and fast break points really matter, you have to really take advantage of the fast break opportunities you have. You have to be able to take care of the ball, and that's what those two guys can give us this time to win this series."
Your defense helped stop Olympiacos’s offense as soon as it crossed half court in last season’s playoffs. Can that work again now?
"Well, I hope so. I would like that to happen. That's the plan. Defense is what is going to help you win games. We have that same intensity. We have a few different players, but we still have the same court values. I don't think we have changed our values as a team to win games. We have to defend. They have a great team. They have Spanoulis, who is a great player as you know, and some other good players who also stepped up. They have great rebounders that we will have to take care of. When you have a great rebounding team like that, you have to get stops, contesting shots and making it hard for them to score and that they don't get those rebounds. I think we will be able to defend because we have been doing that all season and I don't see any reason for us to change how we win games."
Montepaschi, unlike many teams, uses big men at the three-point line to open the floor and circulate the ball. Does that help explain why this team is second in scoring among playoff teams?
"We play together; I think that's the biggest thing. It's probably the big reason why we are second, which I didn't even know until you mentioned it. We play together and when everybody's contributing in offense and defense, it makes it more fun to play basketball. I think that is one of the main reasons. The offense we run, it does spread the floor, and we have guys who are able to knock down their shots. That's the big reason we do like that, because we have those guys: Dave, Ksistof, Shaun... Those guys are able to put the ball in the rim from 10 feet. That is a great help to us."
Last but not least, you had a taste of the big show, the Final Four, in your first season. What would it mean to you to survive this series and go back to fight for the title?
"It would mean a lot of course. That's the big stage right there. Final Four man, I got a great experience there last season. And being back there, back-to-back, is already a great feat, a great accomplishment. But not only to be there and play, but to win the title. It would be amazing. An amazing season for us. And an amazing two years for me personally. I have enjoyed playing these Euroleague games. It's the best competition I have ever been a part of in my life. A great experience and I love playing at the Euroleague level. To be back there will be just incredible, but we will try to win this time."