We did a good job in our game against Panathinaikos and lost against two teams in great shape, Milan and Efes. We did a lot of good things against Milan; it was our first EuroLeague game with Coach Perasovic as our new coach. We didn't get the stops at the end that we needed to win the game, but came back home and had a big win against Panathinaikos. I think that this win was a confidence boost for us and a lot of our guys used this win to try to turn things around. Then we played against another tough team in really good shape, Anadolu Efes. I think that the game was really similar to the one we played in Milan - a similar team with guards who can score and good big guys. Again, we could not get any defensive stops in the fourth quarter to really get us back in the game and that kind of killed us at the end.
"We need a game like this because a win can really change your season."
For me, personally, it is good to go back to places where I played before, especially to places where I left on a good note. When it comes to Efes, the GM, Alper Yilmaz, is the same; most of the coaching staff is the same; all the media people are the same, and some of the players I was with are still there. It is always good to go back and see people you worked with before. It was fun. I was there for one season and one of our biggest moments was winning the Turkish Cup, which was the first time for Efes in like six or seven years. They were really excited about that and it was a big moment to lift that trophy. The playoff game against Real Madrid when I hit the game-winning shot is one I will always remember. We had a lot of good times there.
"Peras" played before and was a shooter. He is always pushing us to take open shots and shoot the ball. He has not really yelled at anyone for taking shots. He knows about confidence and things that happen in the game, so he always looks to push the right buttons, especially for the shooters, to get them open and get them into situations that are going to be successful where they can score open shots.
We will play against CSKA at home this week. The good thing is that we will play against them at home, because right now, CSKA is in really good shape. We need a game like this because a win can really change your season. I think it is an important moment and we need everybody on board. We need our fans to be excited and to continue to help us because we are playing against the best team in Europe. They opened the game against Madrid really well, then they let Madrid get back in it, but ended up winning. They are tested, ready and have a lot of guys who have been there for many years. They obviously have a good defensive presence with Hines and good guards on the offensive end like Higgins, De Colo and Rodriguez. They have a little bit of everything, but for us, it is going to come down to how hard we play, and hopefully, we can come up with a home victory.
After that, we will play five of our next six EuroLeague games on the road. The biggest thing for us is to try to get a few wins over the next month and stay in a position in which at least the eighth spot is reachable. If we make it to the playoffs, anything can happen. We need to maintain a position in which we are able to get there and be there at the end of the season. This stretch over the next month and a half is going to be really important for us to get a few wins, get our confidence back and kind of ride it out until the end of the year. I think we are going to be in a similar case as last year, in which we were fighting every week to try to maintain that position. Last year, we were able to overcome some things to finish seventh in the standings and now we need to fight and do those same things this season. The travel doesn't make it easy, a lot of road games, but I think we are prepared for it.
"This stretch over the next month and a half is going to be really important for us."
We have been on road trips lately and now we get a few more coming up, so I will be away from my daughter. It is definitely tough not to see her and watch her grow as much as I would like, but nowadays, you can be in tough through FaceTime. We are doing the best we can to try to see her as much as possible. Obviously, being a father now, most of the free time I have is dedicated to her. That part is different; there is no more going out to dinner so much, no more going to movies or anything like that. It is kind of nice; we are able to relax at home a little bit, take care of her, watch her play and try to help her out. Hopefully, when she gets a little bit older, we will be able to start doing some other things again, but for now, it is really exciting to watch her grow and kind of be there and enjoy the things that come with fatherhood.
The fans in all the arenas that we have been to, including Buesa Arena, of course, have been great all year. It is exciting to see that the EuroLeague is on its way to exceeding expectations again this year. I invite all the fans to continue their support for all the players, for the teams. It is exciting to step into other arenas and see the excitement that fans have for the game of basketball. I am excited to finish the year on a good note and get ready for 2019 - when everybody will come to Vitoria-Gasteiz for the Final Four!