I have now played against every EuroLeague team out there, so I know the competition a little bit better now, and it is different. The competition is definitely at a high level. And for me, personally, it is different to play the EuroLeague as your first European experience. It takes time to get used to it: the system, the different basketball, and the different rules, too. Everything gets better with time and I am starting to see that. I am taking one game at a time and my teammates are helping me, but again, you can tell it is very competitive and fans are wild everywhere. Our fans are amazing and we have to use that to the best of our abilities. We had a lot of close games with playoff atmospheres so early in the season. That is exciting as a basketball player, to play through those types of atmospheres. I am learning the schemes, not only from my team, but also from the league and what it has to offer.
I was in the NBA for eight years and in China last season. The CBA only lasts for five months while the NBA and the EuroLeague is a whole 10-month effort. Here, you do a lot more team stuff, when it comes to dinners, hotels and things like that. This is where you see that the team is like a family. You have a family in your bloodline, but during the basketball season, your team is almost like your first family. You see your teammates more than you see your real family. When you are playing the game, it is interesting, starting with our coach and the players we have on our team, how they look for success. So I try to use all the information that they give me to the best of my abilities.
What happened to my teammate James Nunnally last week is something you don't really want to experience. I have played for 10 years and have been through similar situations. In fact, I went through a similar situation in college and I was telling him, too, when I talked to him and everything was good. I got low-bridged on a dunk and landed on my neck. I kind of didn't remember and they had to wake me up with smelling salts or something like that. I remember I took a shower to try to see if I could still play. They were asking me questions and they told me I got all of them wrong. Obviously, this was an unfortunate accident. I am glad that everything is okay. Just for him to be able to be good and active is a blessing. Our thoughts and prayers are for him, wishing him a speedy recovery. Something like this is very unfortunate, but we are blessed to try to become stronger players and learn from these incidents in our lives.
After the game, we were getting this information that he would leave in a couple of hours after he took some tests and stuff like that. I saw him a couple of hours after that, in his house. He is a really good friend of mine; we kind of knew each other when I was in Sacramento, since he is from that California area. Ever since I joined the team, I bonded with him. It is good to see him back on his feet. You can tell there is a family atmosphere in Fenerbahce because everybody was ready to help James. Even the team that we played in Turkey last weekend had "Get Well Soon" signs. It is an amazing feeling and we wanted to have that emotion still in the game. James and Jan got hurt in that game, so our thoughts and prayers are with those guys. Other players are having different roles and have to step up. This is what makes this team special: you have to play at the best of your abilities when the opportunity is there.
It is nothing serious and both of them will be playing for our team again very soon. I think our coach prepares games really well, changing up lineups and matchups and things like that. I don't know if he does it for injuries, but so that guys can play with each other at a certain comfort level. When you play with the same type of group, when someone goes down, you are not used to it. When you play in practices and games, it does not make that much of a difference. Some players got hurt, but others stepped up and knotted the holes. It happens through our lives; you have to play against adversity on both sides of the floor. All EuroLeague games are important and we have to keep winning.
I don't think Istanbul gets the credit that it deserves as a city. It is very diverse with a lot of historical places to visit and a lot of good restaurants. There are also great places to relax and spend time with your family, especially on the Asian side, which is where we play our home games. There are a lot of tourists, too. A lot of people want to come out here and do different things. I didn't know much about Istanbul before I got here, but for sure, I will know a lot after the season, and I will be able to tell people in the States how great it is and how much they should come visit Istanbul. I have been to Nusret, the famous meat restaurant in the city. I was there two nights ago and Saltbae now has restaurants throughout the world. I heard that he comes to see some games and was there supporting the team in the Final Four last season. He always takes good care of us - great food, great atmosphere. He is part of the family as well.
With our injuries, guys in different position have to step up and play big roles for this team. Coach prepares us each and every day to go through these situations and everybody is ready. Obviously, it is not going to be easy, but we have to take this one-game-at-a-time approach, get into our rhythm and everything else will take care of itself. We are ready to put the work in and are hyped about the second half of the season. We really want to go into stride into the playoffs and after that, to the Final Four. The main difference from what I experienced in the NBA is that everyone wants to win every game, but in Europe, every game counts, and we know how important EuroLeague games are, each and every one of the games.
Wish us luck! Don't forget to follow me on social networks - @JTthekid on Instagram and Twitter, JTthekid1 on Snapchat – and use my website http://www.livelikejt.org to get to know me a little bit better - @livelikejt on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See you next time!