Thomas Walkup, Zalgiris: 'This is not enough for us'

Apr 24, 2019 by Thomas Walkup - Kaunas, Lithuania Print
Thomas Walkup, Zalgiris: 'This is not enough for us'

Since my last blog entry, we made it to the EuroLeague Playoffs and are down 2-1 against Fenerbahce. We had a good run to get to the playoffs, but that is not where we want to stop the season. That was not the goal of the season; we want to make it to the Final Four, so it is not enough for us just to make it to the playoffs. We are in a do-or-die situation now, with our backs up against the wall, and this is where you really see what you are made of. I know this team has unbelievable character. We have to go out there and show that in Game 4.

Throughout a playoff series, you are playing against the same team several times in a row, so there are going to be a lot of adjustments. It is also important to go from game to game and adjust on the fly. I thought they did a good job of that before Game 3 as we did before Game 2. Still, walking into the game, we knew what we had to do to win Game 3.

"It is so evident that we have the best fans in Europe"

I think that, one to 12, we did a very bad job in Game 1. We were not ourselves in that game and I think the scoreboard showed that. And then in Game 2, we kind of had the time to look ourselves in the mirror, each individual, and find out what we needed to do to get better and help this team win. Every single person gave everything they had not for themselves, but for the team, and when we have this group of guys doing that, I think we are really, really good.

So, we know what it takes to beat Fenerbahce and that could help us in Game 4. We know that if we want to win this series, we have to take care of business at home and then win again on the road, but we cannot look ahead or anything because it doesn't mean anything if we don't win Game 4. I think that the importance of winning Game 2 was improving ourselves and proving that we can play against anybody in the EuroLeague and beat them. It was not a fluke at all. It was important to prove that to ourselves.

Did you see the atmosphere in Game 3 in Kaunas? It was so incredible! It is so evident that we have the best fans in Europe, hands down! It is such a blessing to play here, in front of this incredible crowd every single night! Every single EuroLeague game is packed, sold out, the whole year. For them, to put on the type of show that they put on last night was incredible. Our fans really were there; they were loud and just incredible all throughout the game. They make this home-court advantage so awesome and fun to play in front of. They showed all year the type of fans they are, the best in Europe! When we were playing poorly during the year and in the middle of losing streaks, every single game was still sold out. I think there are other places in Europe in which there are fans who don't want to support a losing team, but that is not the case here. Every single game, no matter what, they are behind us.

We watched some tape this morning, right after Game 3, and I believe this is extremely important. We learned what we did wrong because the video never lies. It is very important for us to learn from our mistakes, like we did in Game 1, so that we don't make them all over again. In order for us to win Game 4, we are going to have to do that - fix all the problems that we had in Game 3. Credit to our coaching staff for having the video ready for us this morning. They work extremely hard, as does the entire front office. There is a great work ethic in this club.

"We learned what we did wrong because the video never lies"

We are not a team that takes a lot of three-point shots, but I don't think it is much about makes or misses as much as it is about rebounding and physicality. Of course, it is nice when shots go in because that makes the game flow better and improves your offense, but whenever we do what we are supposed to do on offense - such as getting the ball where it needs to be, everything is right: when you do the right things, shots go in. As long as we execute our offense, knowing what we need to do, good things happen. We have to be really patient on offense and look for the right shot. We have to take possession by possession and grind it out, not just take the first option, which is something that we didn't a good job of in Game 3. We need to get better at that in Game 4.

It is extremely exciting to be in the EuroLeague Playoffs, fighting for a Final Four spot. This is something that every basketball player wants. We love this stuff and all of us are very excited for Game 4. We have to go out there and do our job, not try to get too excited about anything or get too overhyped. We have to go out there and do the little things, the little jobs, every single possession, and good things will happen for us. I know that our fans will top their Game 3 performance. Throughout the season, I thought 'it is not possible to top this atmosphere' or 'there is no way they will top that', but they continue to top themselves and be better and better in the stands! They have been incredible all year, I am very, very thankful!