We qualified to the playoffs and already clinched home-court advantage in our upcoming series, but that doesn't make the next four games any easier for us. We want to finish the regular season strong. In the EuroLeague, it is not so different to be qualified or not because all of your opponents are good and you just want to know who you are going to play in the next round. In a competition like this, you are not allowed to choose and you never know what can happen in a five-game series. Last year, everybody thought that the weakest opponent to play in the playoffs was Zalgiris, and they made it to the Final Four, kicking Olympiacos out. You have to keep working and stay focused, because it is still a long season. In three weeks, a lot of stuff can happen, and the best way to prepare for the playoffs is to keep our winning streak going and have everybody healthy when that moment comes.
We are in a good moment right now. I think we are playing better basketball than a few weeks ago. We played a great game against Fenerbahce, but at the same time, I felt that Fenerbahce didn't have a good game, so we are not thinking that we are better than them right now. If we play against them in a few weeks' time, it could be a totally different story. Every team is handling things in a different way, and everybody has their ups and downs. We know where we come from and what happened last season. We just want to keep getting better and fix stuff that we are working on during the season. Like I said, what's most important is to have everybody ready for the playoffs -- and everybody healthy.
"I think we are playing better basketball than a few weeks ago."
Still, the Fenerbahce win was a good one for us. It is always important to beat the top team in the standings, especially at home, in front of our crowd. It is very important to give them that joy during the season. Of course, our loss in the Copa del Rey final hurt us a lot for a few weeks. We were a little bit down, but you have the turn the page and there is a lot of stuff coming until the end of the season. I think that the team is back on track and playing better. That is what makes Real Madrid so good. We have a deep team, too. When one man is down, another one shows up. Trey Thompkins just got back right when Anthony Randolph went down last week. We already got into the playoffs and locked up home-court advantage, so we have to use the next games not only to get better, but also to correct some details. We know how good we are and what we can do. We need to polish our game.
I have been in the EuroLeague for some years now and know when I have to give my best. I saw the other day a video that said "Vintage Fabien Causeur". I have to say that I am not so old! It makes me laugh; I am not even 32 years old! At the same time, I know what they mean by that. OK, it is true that I am always playing 100%, but during the season, you know when you have to push a little bit more in practice and when you have to focus a little bit more, because big things are coming. It is true that my mind keeps me more focused when the big games are coming, just as anyone who plays at this level. In the last two or three years, I started to play better at the same moment of the season. I just hope that this season will finish the same way as the previous one.
This is a double-round week. We will host Milan first, then travel to Vitoria-Gasteiz to face Baskonia. We will also play against Panathinaikos on the road and Zalgiris at home in the last two rounds. First things first, we will face Milan on Wednesday, a very dangerous team that won six of its last seven games. They are playing with a lot of confidence and after missing most of the season, now Milan has Nemanja Nedovic back. It is a deep team scoring-wise, with a lot of talent, and not just in the backcourt. Milan's big men are also very important for them to balance the team between defense and offense. They were close to beating CSKA in Moscow. We just have to be ready for them. It is interesting because our next four opponents are some of the teams that we might face in the playoffs! So they are not just regular games. We can use those games to prepare a series because you never know what can happen.
"It is a key month to prepare for what is left."
After playing Milan at home, we will go to Fernando Buesa Arena to face Baskonia. It is always special for me to play there, and I hope we can be there for the Final Four. Some of their team members are like my family. I spent four years there, we had some very good moments, and it is always great to see them. It is always tough to play Madrid, so being booed during the game is something I understand. You always want to beat a good team like Baskonia, and I still get a lot of messages full of respect from Baskonia fans. You cannot have 100% of the people loving you and I understand that, but I am always happy to go back to Vitoria. I have a lot of good memories and good friends there. Last season, I remember they beat us by 30 points in the EuroLeague game there. They are playing to qualify and to have the best possible position in the standings, so for them it is a crucial game. We will play in a full gym, for sure, and in front of an amazing atmosphere. We want to go and not see what happens, but come back with a win, of course.
I think March is a very tough month because of the schedule and the opponents. We played crazy games in the EuroLeague but also in the Spanish League. We face Milan and Baskonia, then come back home to play a El Clásico in the Spanish League on Sunday, then we play on the road against Panathinaikos and Tenerife. It is a very, very tough month, but it is a key month to prepare for what is left. It is going to be like that until the end of the season, one tough game after another. We have to keep playing the way we want and working good. There is nothing new. The team confidence is really good right now and I hope we will not have any injuries in the future. If so, everything will go right for us.