They said it: 'It was like a final'

Jan 11, 2020 by Print
They said it: 'It was like a final'

The intensity and passion that characterizes the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this week spilled over into the post-game discussions, as well. Here is some of the best of what this week's protagonists, both winners and losers, had to say following their games.

Spreading the wealth

"We have to think about and continue playing this way, with all players feeling important and everybody helping the team in many ways." – Zeljko Obradovic

A week after KIROLBET Baskonia cut the wings of high-flying FC Barcelona, the next visitor to Vitoria-Gasteiz was Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, which was missing such luminaries as Kostas Sloukas and Jan Vesely. After Leo Westermann hit a career-high 7 three-pointers in under 22 minutes and big men Derrick Williams, Malcolm Thomas and Joffrey Lauvergne combined for 11 assists, the visitors had their second consecutive road win and praise from a boss who liked what he saw.

Not what meets the eye

"What's giving up the threes is getting beat one-on-one constantly off the dribble. Then you are forced to rotate and you give up the three. And that is what is killing us, our one-on-one ball containment." – Rick Pitino

The defense of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens gives up more three-pointers than any other EuroLeague team, which had plenty to do with the team's 96-87 road loss in Milan on Thursday, as AX Armani Exchange drilled 14 shots from the arc, tying its season high. But Panathinaikos head coach Rick Pitino pointed out that defenders of the shooters themselves aren't to blame as much as those who should first impede the ball movement that leads to open shots.

Ace in the hole

Vladimir Stimac - Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade - EB19

"It's like déjà vu for me because I played here a couple of weeks ago. Respect to ASVEL, they are a great team... This is one of the hardest courts in the EuroLeague." – Vladimir Stimac

Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade had an ace up its sleeve when visiting LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Friday. Recently acquired center Vladimir Stimac had won on the road against ASVEL earlier in the season, when he was with Fenerbahce, scoring 21 points en route to his season-high PIR of 27. This time, he shot a perfect 9 of 9 field goals for 21 points again as Zvezda rallied from a 21-point deficit to win 80-83. The veteran knew, too, that both his teams were fortunate to get out of The Astroballe alive.

Back-to-the-wall win

"For us it was like a final. Everybody knew that if we lost this game it would be very difficult to be to the playoffs." – Georgios Printezis

Valencia Basket had won six consecutive home games when Olympiacos Piraeus came to town on Friday. The Reds had lost five of their previous six games and drifted toward the lower reaches of the standings. That was an unaccustomed neighborhood for the veterans who lead Olympiacos, and even though a whole half a season remained before tipoff, one of them was blunt about the stakes and his motivation before the visitors pulled off a narrow 91-93 victory.

Champion mentality

"We are facing the adversities and we are going to overcome them." – Dimitris Itoudis

Everybody faces injuries during the season, and the injury bug has been hitting defending champion CSKA Moscow pretty hard lately. After losing Final Four MVP Will Clyburn for the season, CSKA was traveling to Munich without guards Janis Strelnieks and Daniele Hackett. But coach Dimitris Itoudis wanted no excuses ahead of his team's road match with FC Bayern, and CSKA delivered as he predicted before the game, with a 77-84 win.