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Great win, but two more are needed
Apr 16, 2014
by Bostjan Nachbar - Barcelona, Spain
Hello again, Euroleague world! We just beat Galatasaray in Game 1 to get out first playoffs win. It definitely feels good, but it's just 1-0. It shows which things are working and which are not. As far as winning by 30 points or one point, it doesn't really matter - but of course, it is good for our confidence. We need to play well at home if we want to advance to the Final Four. We are aware of that.
We came out a little bit stressed, a little bit flat. You can feel the intensity in the playoffs and it took us more time than we wanted to get things going on the floor. I think Jacob Pullen was big for us. He came in and lifted the whole team up. It was hard for Galatasaray to lose Carlos Arroyo during the game: I hope he can come back and play right away. Still, it is obvious that we picked up our tempo, especially on defense, and that allowed us to play better on offense, too. We rebounded much better and if you do that and make a couple of shots, things open up - and that is what happened.
We had 33 points at halftime and 26 in the third quarter. We knew it was up to our defense to do better. Once you pick up your defensive intensity, you start to run more, get into the flow and things get easier. We are a team that, once we get going, we are extremely dangerous, and that is what happened. I think that in the second half we moved the ball a little bit better and had some more open shots. It is important for us, in the series, that a lot of guys were able to score in Game 1. We have to breathe in, play with the same intensity as we did in the second half, and get that second win at home.
We had a lot of guys contributing, not just scoring. Alex Abrines and Kostas Papanikolaou did a great job defensively; all of our big guys fought hard and everyone contributed. Jacob, Brad, Juan Carlos... a lot of players had good nights on offense, but overall it was a team effort. You can't depend on one player: all players have to contribute one way or another.
Our previous game, the last of the Top 16, was special for another reason, as it was the first one with Google Glass in European basketball. It was interesting - even the referees wore the glasses. I wouldn't mind, honestly, if referees wore them all the time! I guess it would be easier for them to look at replays, especially in the crucial moments of the game, and decide what is the right call. Maybe we will see that in the future, but it is definitely something new and fresh. I tried them on. It was great and I think it can help the game a lot!
We may have lost a couple of games once we locked up first place in our Top 16 group, but nobody on this team had doubts. We had a couple of bad games after playing very well for a long time. I wish we would have won: everybody in the locker room wanted to win thosse two games. What was important is that those losses made us open our eyes and realize that we have to play good basketball, the way we did throughout the Top 16. We have to hustle and play hard if we want to win. Those losses woke us up! We cannot get ahead of things: now, we need two more wins to make it to the Final Four.
If we make it, it would be my second Final Four. I played it with Benetton Treviso in 2002. I was 21 at that time and an up-and-coming player. I played a big role for Benetton and that was a huge thing for me. The Final Four was in Bologna and we lost against Kinder, which we beat later on in the Italian championship. It was disappointing because I believe we had a team that, potentially, could have won the whole thing. For me, it was an unbelievable experience to be in such an environment. It helped me to grow as a player - you feel the intensity, the importance of the games. It is one of a kind. Hopefully, I will be able to relive that.
We have to start Game 2 from zero, because that's the truth: you start 0-0 again. That's the important factor, that we cannot sleep on the Game 1 win or be too happy about it. Winning by so many points in Game 1 is not that important. I am sure both teams will make minor adjustments. You cannot change things drastically at this point of the season, but minor adjustments can be made. It will be important to come out better this time around. We don't want any team to feel comfortable against us, especially on our home court.
Our fans made us make the most of the home court advantage. It feels great to play at home. We get great support. Fans react when we play well and get in our flow. It helps us. For me personally, I love playing here, more than in any other European arena. Maybe the other one is the Palaverde in Treviso, which is kind of similar to Palau Blaugrana. There are some similarities. Not only do I love playing here, but I know how big FC Barcelona is. Playing here is such a big thing and that makes you play so much harder and better.
So, stay tuned! We will keep battling to seal our tickets to Milan! Visca el Barça!