Sasha Vezenkov: 'The EuroLeague is like a roller-coaster this year'

Dec 04, 2018 by Print
Sasha Vezenkov: 'The EuroLeague is like a roller-coaster this year'

As you know, we have already played 10 EuroLeague games and won six of them. The EuroLeague is like a roller-coaster this year; you can lose a few games in a row, but also win some games in a row as we have now. The most important thing, win or lose, is staying focused on your final goal. After three consecutive losses, we were mentally tough and won the next three games. It is only the beginning of the season and the next games are very important. We want to compete and keep winning. The EuroLeague is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Being mentally tough and not allowing losses to get you down is very important. At the same time, you cannot be too hyped up about wins and think you are the best. You have to find the balance and keep working.

Probably our best game until now was the win against Real Madrid. Our fans helped us a lot – we always need them by our side, and I think we had a great game against a team that was undefeated until that point. We wanted to prove ourselves and keep improving. I believe we also played a very good game against Buducnost. We hope it was a turning point for the rest of the season. Vassilis Spanoulis played great. He is a basketball legend and wants to win every game. He is a winner and does everything he can to help his team win. Every player has ups and downs, good games and bad games, but he always has this "Kill Bill" mentality. He has won three EuroLeague titles and is still hungry for more wins and more titles.

"The EuroLeague is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Being mentally tough... is very important."

The thing about Billy is that he watches basketball all the time and is always thinking about basketball. He has a winning mentality and hates losing. He wants to win every pickup game, every friendly game, every shooting contest... winning is in his DNA, he just refuses to lose. Every player has his own routines, but Billy does a lot of stuff to feel better and ready when the game starts. Every player has something different - for instance, I listen to some music and that's it. Nothing really specific.

I have been coming off the bench this season and trying to help my team. That's my goal. It doesn't matter if I play five minutes, 15 minutes or if I don't play at all, I want to help the team, and that is the most important thing for every player. If the team is winning, every player helps. Coach Blatt wants me to be aggressive, bring energy and help the team in this very physical EuroLeague. The only way is to be aggressive and tough.

Speaking of being aggressive and tough off the bench, Zach LeDay had an amazing game against Buducnost - 42 index! It was impressive! He is a good player who is improving every day. Don't forget that he is a EuroLeague rookie, but is playing like a veteran in the competition. He just killed it! I am very happy for him. He is a very important part of this team. He easily adapts to the '4' and '5' positions. He is very aggressive and tries to do something positive every minute he is on the court. He always brings energy and off the court, he is a really cool, quiet, very good guy.

"I am not surprised to see 'Saras' do so well as coach. He was a computer as a player."

Our next game is against Zalgiris in Lithuania. It is a great place to play, with 15,000 people watching you, against a very good team with a very good coach. It will a tough game, an important one for both teams. We will need to do things 100% well if we want to win in Kaunas. Zalgiris plays as a team and wants to control the game, so we have to take them out of their comfort level by being really tough. They have won a lot on the road and finally they won at home last week, too. Both teams are confident right now and that means we will see a good game. I am not surprised to see 'Saras' do so well as coach. He was a computer as a player. He knew everything about basketball, so the transition to being a coach was easy for him. It is logical and everything he does is for a reason, to find the opponents' weak spots. He is really, really good.

We have been traveling a lot lately and there are many things you can do to entertain yourself in airports or on flights and road trips. I try to sleep as much as I can, but I also watch movies and TV series. I listen to music and in general, I try to spend a lot of time with my teammates. I am lucky because I easily fall asleep on airplanes. Lately, I have been watching "La Casa De Papel" and will probably start "Lucifer" next. Both of them are on Netflix, which helps players a lot on road trips. It is very important for players to have Netflix and have the option to watch movies and series offline because some trips are really long and it is really tough.

We have five more EuroLeague games in 2018 and wants to finish the first half of the regular season really well. At the same time, we have to go game by game; it is the best thing we can do right now. We have a lot of experienced players on this team who have been in the EuroLeague for many years. Looking too far ahead is not good and our mind is on the next game against Zalgiris.