Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
EUROLEAGUE FANTASY CHALLENGE
Stephane Lasme, Panathinaikos Athens
Apr 23, 2014
by Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net
Panathinaikos Athens bounced back from consecutive playoffs losses with a 65-59 win against CSKA Moscow in Game 3 of their best-of-five playoffs series. Defense was the key to that win, as Panathinaikos held CSKA scoreless in the final 3 minutes. As always, one of its biggest factors in that defense was Stephane Lasme, the reigning Euroleague Best Defender, who led Panathinaikos with 13 points, including a game-sealing layup on a pass from Dimitris Diamantidis that broke the competition's career assists record. Lasme also did what he does best, of course, helping Panathinaikos limit CSKA centers Nenad Krstic and Sasha Kaun to just 10 points - almost half of their combined average of 17.7. In just four Euroleague seasons with three different teams - Partizan Belgrade, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and now Panathinaikos - Lasme is already third in career blocks with 136 shots in 93 games (1.46 bpg.). As Panathinaikos gets ready to host Game 4 at Olympic Sports Center Athens (OAKA), Lasme hopes to use the momentum his team got in the final minutes of Game 3 to tie the series and return the series to Moscow for a do-or-die Game 5. "Ifeel really confident, while at the same time we all know that it's not going to be easy," Lasme told Euroleague.net. "Hopefully, we are going to let the energy carry us in Game 4."
Stephane, Panathinaikos got its first victory in the series Monday. How do you feel about where the team is in this series right now?
"I feel pretty good... That's the feeling! Hopefully, we can get the next one and we'll see. We are only thinking of game number four now."
Tell us about what Panathinaikos did better or different to win Game 3....
"We were more focused... We paid attention to small details, we took care of the ball and we had bigger desire to win the game. And it showed on the floor, I believe."
After pushing CSKA to overtime, but then losing, how difficult was the lost opportunity of Game 1 to overcome for you and your teammates?
"I was hard and weird, but we did what we had to do. We talked as a team after Game 2 and it was a good thing. We decided to stick together and to give everything as a team... Together! And that's what we did in Game 3."
Dimitris Diamantidis wasn't himself after getting injured early in Game 2. Did Game 3, when he broke the Euroleague assists record, show he's back to full strength?
"Of course he is! I don't think that Diamantidis was ever out of strength or something. And I don't believe that is the kind of guy who will be affected by the injury. I believe in him 100% and I believe that he is the best point guard in Euroleague."
Of course, his record-breaking assist was to you for a huge basket in the last minute Monday. Does it feel nice to be a part of that piece of history?
"Of course, it felt nice! I am forever going to remember that I was the guy to score in order for Diamantidis to get his record, to be number one in assists. And at I am going to be on the picture!"
This is a defensive series, the lowest-scoring one of the four so far. Is that how your team needs it to be, low-scoring, in Game 4, too?
"We don't think about the score that much. We are just focused on the game. We are focused on getting stops and 100% on what we are doing on the floor. We had for sure a couple of bad shooting nights, but hopefully we are getting back on track and we'll be better in the future."
As a defensive ace yourself, last year's Best Defender Trophy winner, do you enjoy more stopping the other team or scoring yourself?
"I enjoy everything, man... I am just a basketball guy. I just enjoy the process of winning a game and if I can help with my defense, it's a plus. But mostly I enjoy the game itself."
Everyone talks about the little game-to-game adjustments in the playoffs. What's a good example of an adjustment Panathinaikos or CSKA made within this series so far?
"I am not giving out our secrets! We changed a couple of things, CSKA did the same. They are a good and experienced team, and you have to play at full strength to beat them."
Game 4, at home, with the OAKA crowd. How much confidence do you feel after winning Game 3 and having Game 4 at OAKA to be able to take the series back to Moscow?
"I feel really confident, while at the same time we all know that it's not going to be easy. Hopefully, we are going to let the energy carry us in Game 4. We still need to be focused and fix some small details and correct the mistakes we made in Game 3."