So we have to beat Brescia on the road to make sure we advance to the Top 16, and it is going to be a great challenge. Brescia just signed Jared Cunningham, another high-caliber player. It is going to be interesting and a great test for us. We lost our first do-or-die game of the season in the German Cup; it was a really close game against Frankfurt and we lost it. We have been through tough moments and I think we are mentally prepared to go out there and give ourselves a good chance to win. Brescia did not play well against Zvezda but that doesn't mean they will do the same against us. You never know; I have seen it all. If you lose by 40, there will be a reaction from the players and coaches. Sometimes it is better to surprise a team when they are feeling good about themselves. A loss like Brescia had can be galvanizing because it is usually followed by a good week of practice, which sometimes gives that team energy for the next game. I am not a huge fan of Brescia's bad result, to be honest.
We come off a key win against Andorra. Sometimes in the group stages, the last two games can be high-pressure ones or not. For us, it was a do-or-die game against a team that has already advanced, but we needed the win to keep our chances to go through. At home, we have better chances to beat good teams like Andorra. We brought out our energy, especially in the second half, allowing them just 37 points after halftime to win and keep our 7DAYS EuroCup hopes alive.
"I think we are mentally prepared to go out there and give ourselves a good chance to win."
As a backup point guard, you are not always going to have a flashy game. Sometimes you just have to run the team and make sure that the right guys get shots. Sometimes, every now and then, there is a night on which you make shots, and this is what happened against Andorra. I could help offensively and it was fun. Our fans gave us great support that night. We have not won on the road this year in the EuroCup, so you can tell that their support means a lot to us.
Javonte Green is helping us a lot. I don't know what his steals numbers are right now, but they are huge. It means he is picking up steals against high-caliber players two or three times a game, which is just crazy. He is everywhere and, of course, he gets a lot of defensive freedom from us. The coach knows how to find a good balance for him to stick in our concept and still do what he does best, to keep taking chances every now and then, coming from the weak side to intercept the ball. It is amazing how well he adjusted to this level of competition, after having had to fight through lower levels, building his own career and becoming such a big weapon, offensively and defensively. He gets a steal and all of a sudden, he is at the other end scoring. At this level of competition, in which easy points are hard to come by, that is huge. He is a great momentum-changer.
Javonte said in a EuroCup interview that I have been around Americans for a long time – and he is correct! I have been around Americans for years, but I think that is a regular thing for any German player. I had Americans on my team when I was 16 years old and I played in the Regionalliga. German basketball loves Americans. I remember that we had a seventh-division team in my hometown – I don't even know what that compares to – but they had two Americans on that team. It is what it is, German basketball is heavily influenced by Americans and a lot of them come here at a really young age, fresh out of college. It can be a cultural shock so if there is anything I can help with – a home meal every now and then, going out and showing them where there are some good restaurants – I am willing to help.
"Whoever wins will deserve to be in the next round, and we will give our best to be that team!"
We beat Brescia by one point at home and this game might become a thriller, too. Of course, things would have been easier if we had won a couple more games, but that is what you get. It is a fun stretch of the season. Everyone on the team wants to keep playing in the EuroCup. We have a lot of young, competitive guys on the team. If you look at the groups, you see a bunch of high-caliber teams with a lot of history. It is a good competition, and we have a lot of young guys who never had that exposure or haven't had long careers in European competitions. They want to keep playing against the big names and want to win. I really think it is very important for a lot of our guys to remain in the EuroCup.
I like our chances! I think we have a team that deserves to be in the Top 16, so I hope the game against Brescia will not be our last one, and I hope that you will keep enjoying this super interesting, amazing blog. I cannot promise anything. Brescia is a good team and we have a lot of respect for them. I have to be diplomatic and politically correct and say that we will play as hard as we can, knowing that Brescia has a lot of talent. Whoever wins will deserve to be in the next round, and we will give our best to be that team!