Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
EUROLEAGUE FANTASY CHALLENGE
On the right track!
Feb 26, 2014
by Nenad Krstic - Moscow, Russia
Hello again, Euroleague fans! This is Nenad Krstic of CSKA Moscow. Well, we still have a lot of work to do but things are going well here. We just beat Maccabi by 35 points, a great win for us. If somebody had told us before the game that we would win by 35, we wouldn't have believed it, but we did it. The game was not as easy as the final score says, but it shows that we were growing as a team.
It was a night to remember, too. Personally, I was awarded with the January bwin MVP trophy. It was great to get the trophy in front of our fans. It was not the first time that I receive this award, but getting it is always a good experience and a good feeling. I think it is a great idea to give this award at a home game. Of course, I knew I was the January bwin MVP when I got it - it was announced like 10 or 12 days earlier - but doesn't change the fact that it is a great feeling. What did I do with the trophy? It is here in my apartment, provisionally. I keep all trophies and important stuff in Belgrade. I keep everything in the same place!
There was a great pre-game show, too. We have people who worked hard for this, all week long, to prepare this show. I didn't pay attention to every single detail, because I was trying to focus on the game, but it was definitely great. I like the fact that CSKA pays attention to details like this. They are really trying to send a good picture before the game - and did a great job! CSKA always does something special in big games, and hosting Maccabi is always big. We did it before, and I sure they will do something spectacular again soon.
Also before the game, David Blatt was honored by the Russian Federation with the nation's Order of Friendship for his success with the Russian national team. He even said some words in Russian to thank everyone before the game. One of my teammates told me that the award he got is a big thing in Russia. Blatt did great things for Russian basketball and deserves it! I don't know how he speaks Russian on a regular basis, but he did a good job with that speech! Everybody in the gym liked that. It was a great night and we managed to get a great win. The complete package, before, during and after the game was great.
You may have noticed that our starting lineup got bigger, with Sonny Weems and Viktor Khryapa at both wings, since the game against Galatasaray. Well, we did it last season and practiced this a lot for the last six weeks or so. Viktor faces the biggest change: his moving from '4' or '3' gives us a lot of mismatches. He can play facing the basket but also take his opponent to the low post. Sonny is used to switching from the '3' to the '2' position, so that's no problem for him. Kyle Hines is used to playing '4' and so the new lineup is working for us.
It is great for me, too, because Viktor and Kyle are great defenders and are always ready to protect the basket. I know they have my back and that's a great feeling, it makes my job much easier. I am not getting too tired on defense, which allows me to do better on offense, too, with more energy. I didn't think about that but when I started to play in this lineup, I realized that it's helping me to do better. Teo (Milos Teodosic), Sonny, Viktor... everyone passes the ball really well, which makes my job easier on offense. We are putting the pieces together and playing better as a team.
We will face Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar this week. They play hard and we know them pretty well, having played a lot of games against them last year, and also once this season. They have pretty much the same team and the same coach, too. We know this team and expect a very tough game. Every game will be a fight from now on if we want to make it to the playoffs as soon as possible. They will come here with a lot of energy but we have to protect our home court. We are in a good position, but cannot relax. We've had bad experiences when we relax, and ended up not playing well. We have had enough time to prepare for this game and I am sure everybody understands that this is a very important game for us.
We are trying not to get ahead of ourselves. First, we have to beat Lokomotiv. Our next goal is to lock up a playoffs spot, then the next will be finishing first or second in our group to get the home court advantage: that is the plan! We are on the right track. It is normal and human nature to think about the near future but we cannot even think about the playoffs - which position we will be in and which opponent we will find in the next round - until we have qualified. From my point of view, we have to go game by game and not think of anything else. I am focusing on Lokomotiv Kuban and don't even want to know about our next opponents. That's our focus!
So, I expect our fans to come to see us against Lokomotiv, especially after the good game we had in Krasnodar. I hope we can celebrate together after the game. Go CSKA!