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.
"I have four days off right now. I don't care about two home games coming up. I am going to enjoy my time off! ." – Sarunas Jasikevicius
Among the many EuroLeague teams that played up to three games in national cup tournaments before Round 25, giving them four games in eight or nine days, was Zalgiris Kaunas, which lifted the Lithuanian Cup trophy before flying to Spain and beating host KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 60-74 for its fourth victory in five games and seventh in 10. If head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius was thinking ahead after the big road win, you could hardly tell by his post-game comment.
Not enough fight
"You may have bad days, but there should be no moments when we don't fight...We have to respect the people here who have helped us with everything in seven years." – Zeljko Obradovic
It was a rough night for Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul when mighty but undermanned Real Madrid came to town and posted a 65-94 blowout victory at Ulker Sports and Event Hall on Thursday. Afterwards, legendary head coach Zeljko Obradovic appealed to his players to use the fans who had helped them with their support to reach the last five Final Fours as inspiration and motivation.
"We have a whole lot of players that can come in, step up and play. We saw that today." – Jaycee Carroll
On the flip side, Real shook off the absences of four injured players with the help of a teenage starter, Usman Garuba, who had played less than 20 minutes in the previous 16 rounds, and little-used Nicola Laprovittola, who stayed on court for a career-high 23 minutes. Veteran shooter Jaycee Carroll, who led the win with 20 points, made clear that one of Real's strengths is confidence in whoever steps on the court.
Winning for fallen comrades
"I want to dedicate this win to them….We knew that the players who would play would fight until the end." – Sasha Vezenkov
Another team that has faced upheaval due to injuries, Olympiacos Piraeus, proved to be the sole home team to get a victory in Round 25. That happened despite playing without five regulars and seeing the team's top performer, center Nikola Milutinov, hobble out injured early in an eventual 77-68 win over visting LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. The leading scorer in the win, forward Sasha Vezenkov, had his missing comrades on his mind.
"Sometimes it's not important to win the game but how you win the game." – Svetislav Pesic
Another team with a tough assignment in Round 25 was FC Barcelona, which was facing not only sixth-place Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, but that team's many thousands of raucous fans. Behind by double digits in the third quarter, Barcelona proceeded to dominate the offensive boards on the way to an 81-92 victory, a 21-point turnaround in just over 15 minutes that winning head coach Svetislav Pesic attributed to his team's perseverance and belief in itself. Indeed, it was the kind of win that bodes well for Barcelona as the games get tougher going forward.