To get ready for the Final Four, we played a couple of friendly games last week with Efes Pilsen. One was behind closed doors on Thursday and another open to the public on Friday. It helped a lot, especially for a couple players who haven't played much in the previous weeks. You have to remember that we finished out playoff series on March 31 and had only a couple Russian League playoff games after that. So, some of us hadn't been on the court most of April, but especially Terence Morris, who never plays in the Russian League. The playoff games in Russia weren't that difficult, so our coaches thought the friendlies were a good thing to do for everyone in order to have some Euroleague-type competition going into the Final Four. We played good, even though we were trying to work on a couple things specifically for Barcelona and had to run those things to help us get ready. Of course, it was also important to get ready from a mental standpoint with a more competitive opponent against whom we needed to push ourselves closer to a Final Four level of play. Overall, it was a good level of play in both games, certainly so for exhibition games, and I think it helped us get ready for whatever comes our way now.
I know that I am a rookie, but I have to be ready, too. Coach Messina in the last practice was very clear that I might play if something comes up, and if so, I just want to make sure I help the team in any way possible. I bring...
Sasha Kaun - Moscow, Russia
April 29, 2009