Valencia Basket did not have a good start to the season; it lost its first five games. A reaction was needed and Valencia managed to bounce back with three consecutive home wins - four if counting a Spanish League victory against Casademont Zaragoza - against FC Bayern Munich, Zenit St Petersburg and Khimki Moscow Region. All of a sudden, Valencia is 4-6 and looking good.
Two factors contributed to its remarkable comeback. First, La Fonteta is one of the toughest arenas to play in Europe. Valencia has won four 7DAYS EuroCup titles based on its strength in front of its fans, and despite some painful losses - most remarkably, Game 3 of the 2017 EuroCup Finals against Unicaja Malaga - playing in front of its fans is what has made Valencia so successful over the last two decades.
A long roster and identifying the player who has the "hot hand" or a good matchup or night paid off in these three wins. Last week against Bayern, Vanja Marinkovic, Brock Motum and Guillem Vives combined for 46 points to lead Valencia to an 82-56 win. On Tuesday, Alberto Abalde (18) and Jordan Loyd (17) were the team's top scorers against Zenit.
New go-to guys stepped up this time, including the regular one: Bojan Dubljevic, the heart and soul of the team, a Montenegrin-born Valencian in his eighth season with the club, had 18 points, 7 rebounds and a PIR of 29 - a new career-high. Mike Tobey (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Quino Colom (12 points, 11 assists) had respective double-doubles. It was Tobey's first-ever EuroLeague double-double and the second for Colom in 33 career games.
That's eight different players stepping up with strong numbers in three consecutive wins. What a good sign for Jaume Ponsarnau and his coaching staff! How did he do it? "We had the energy required to play all these games. Players stepped up gradually, with great conviction and determination, and playing at home also helped us a lot," Ponsarnau said after the win. "We didn't overload our players with information and rest. When you play so many games, the best practice is resting."
Valencia now faces a more difficult calendar with three consecutive road games - against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas. Still, the team has a lot of confidence now and is in its best form this season. That confidence allowed Valencia to rally from a 4-20 start against Khimki and win the game. As Dubljevic said after the game, Valencia wants more. "We are really happy because we are at a top level like we wanted to be," Dubljevic said, trying to keep it simple. "We just have to continue to work and play well. There are no limits for us."