For sure, losing Game 2 of the playoffs is not what we had planned. We have been playing well the whole year, and we had not lost a game in our arena until now. Surely it is unexpected, but what can you do? Zalgiris came out to play; they were tough, concentrated and motivated. They have done all the things they wanted, and we did not react well.
"We are surely not going to go down without a fight."
We talked about some previous upsets, like the one from last season when Madrid beat Panathinaikos, and from even earlier when Montepaschi beat Olympiacos. We knew everything about them, but we probably went a little bit slow, a little bit relaxed into the game, maybe thinking it will be another easy game. And we received payback for that way of thinking. It is 1-1, the series keeps on going, we need two more wins. We are surely not going to go down without a fight.
The same team that played in Game 2 also played two days before in Game 1. We must go back to the meeting room, watch both games, see what was good and what was bad. We are still the same team that won 25 regular season games. Sometimes a bad night comes. Zalgiris hit some incredible shots; we missed some open layups. Nights like that happen, but it is all part of the game. We can't be too devastated now. Of course, we feel terrible, especially me; I played really miserable. But those nights are part of the game and our reaction – what we will show in Kaunas this week – is important.
"We are still the same team that won 25 regular season games."
Every team in the EuroLeague Playoffs is there for a reason. That was best seen last Thursday, when the eighth and seventh seeds won road games against the first and second seed. It showed they are amazing teams, they are fighting, and they have a lot of talent. If you relax a little bit, everyone is going to use that. That is our lesson from Game 2. Hopefully, we will manage to do a break in Kaunas and keep it going.
We know about the atmosphere in Kaunas. Fans are part of this game, but it is important what we show on the court. What Zalgiris showed in Game 2 is that the players control the game and control the flow. It will be important not to allow Zalgiris to involve the fans, to raise the temperature and raise the atmosphere. But, this is why we play. We are going to see in these two games if we are the real team, if we are really winners or losers. It kind of comes down to that, win or go home. I am really focused on those games, we talk about them 24 hours per day, and hopefully, we will win in Kaunas and prove we were first for a reason.
I personally had some good games recently, but I keep returning to this Game 2. In sports, the memory goes as far back as the last game. So, everybody forgets all the previous games. If we lose twice in Kaunas, it was all for nothing. However, if we win one or two games in Kaunas, everything will be back on track, and everyone goes back to feeling good. I do believe Game 2 was a bad night and bad luck.
"It is all about motivation and hunger."
We do have experience from playing in these types of games, and we must find the same mentality that we had two years ago when we went to OAKA in Athens and won Game 1 and Game 2 on the road. Also, last year we clinched the series in Vitoria. So, we do have experience playing playoff games and Final Four games, but if we lose twice in Kaunas it will be for nothing, and Zalgiris will be a great surprise and become that team that eliminates the best regular season team.
We know what it takes to get to the Final Four. It is all about motivation and hunger, like I say in most interviews I do. It is what we had and what we have been showing the entire season, but did not show in Game 2. That is one of the most important things at this level, how motivated can you be from one night to another night. You have to bring your A-game every night. We did not do that in Game 2, and that is why we lost. Hopefully, we can turn it around in Kaunas. This team is made for that reason. We chose a tougher road, but nothing is finished yet. We are going to fight like crazy in Kaunas, and hopefully, we are going to show we are the better team.