Hello, Euroleague fans! My name is Milko Bjelica and I play power forward for Caja Laboral Vitoria. First of all, I would like to introduce myself, since this is my first blog entry. I am an experienced player, a team player. I have played this competition for four years and before that, I played the Eurocup for many years, too. I won the Eurocup with Lietuvos Rytas in 2009 and have played in the Euroleague since that moment.
There are two misconceptions about me. First of all, no, I am not related to Nemanja Bjelica other than him being my teammate. We are not brothers, cousins or anything like that! There isn't too much people with our surname in our country, but things like that happen, we play for the same Euroleague team! There are some far family connections between us. People may think that because we both played for Crvena Zvezda and Caja Laboral. We don't get asked about it, just sometimes. Our parents know each other, however. I was born in Serbia but my parents are from Montenegro. I was born in a country which, as you all know, has become many countries. I had the right to take both nationalities - I am Montenegrin by origin but lived in Serbia for my whole life. I got invited to play for Montenegro and accepted it.
It's funny because I have Montenegrin teammates in the team - first Taylor Rochestie, who just left the club, and now Omar Cook. Three Montenegrins and two Bjelicas in the same team! I find it quite funny. I know Omar well because he played for Montenegro for several years, so we know each other. I also got to know Taylor this summer in the EuroBasket Qualifying Rounds.
A lot of things have changed in Caja Laboral lately. We switched coaches and as I write this, we have won 14 consecutive games with Zan Tabak as our new boss. We lost against Zalgiris but he had arrived two days earlier and didn't have time to change anything. I am sure that if we played against them right now, it would be a completely different story! We started to play better and better. Everything that coach changed came at the right time. We won some critical games in the Euroleague and made it to the Top 16. We are also playing well in the Spanish League and are second behind Real Madrid. The whole city is happy - we cannot complain!
We beat Besiktas last week and didn't expect the game to be so easy for us. Actually, it was the opposite situation - we were afraid of this game. We came back from Israel, had to play in Madrid and came back, so we were a bit tired. Once the game started, we saw we were prepared and ready to get another win. Before that, we beat Maccabi Electra in Tel Aviv. We got an early lead, they rallied but we managed to get the win in the end. This is one of the things that have changed. We play in the same way no matter if we are winning or losing. We played a great first half but they came back in the third quarter. Coach Tabak did a great job and we managed to win it.
Speaking on Coach Tabak, I like the way he works with individual players. He spends the whole day working with players, not only big guys, but just everyone. He really knows how to show you what to do. I think this is very important, especially for us, the big guys. He had a great career! For sure, he is helping everyone to improve. With Coach Tabak, all players feel important. Everybody have their minutes to keep high intensity in our game, which is very important.
Our next game is against Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul. They have a 0-3 record but if you look at their team, they have great players and one of the best coaches in Europe. I think that they are not in the best shape - and I hope they stay in that shape for at least one more week, until our game! They are 0-3 and will do anything they can to avoid going down to 0-4. I hope we will keep winning against them - we managed to beat them twice last season. I have to say this is the best moment for Caja Laboral since I arrived here two years ago. Everything is really rolling - and I hope we can carry on like that until the end of the season!
Milko Bjelica - Vitoria, Spain
Wednesday, January 16, 2013