Veteran guard John Holland of UNICS Kazan does not hide his nor his team's ambition in his latest EuroCup blog post on the eve of a playoff showdown against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
John Holland, UNICS: 'It's gonna be fun!'
We've made it to the EuroCup Playoffs. That's just one of our goals; we have a long way to go, but we gotta take it really just one game at a time. We accomplished getting into the playoffs and now we have to focus on the next task, which is facing Lokomotiv. Obviously, anytime you start something that is the end goal, especially in a tournament like this, and I know we have the ability to do it, I don't think it's wrong to be ambitious. And that's the goal, going all the way, but you know you have to take it one step at a time. Everything is a process and we're just on the next step of the process, and it should be fun.
Loko is a bit of our rival, so that's exciting. That's something that you know it should be fun. This is my fourth EuroCup season and I have never been so close to the title. It's a great opportunity, the furthest I have ever been, so it is definitely a great opportunity to try to accomplish something big. It is exciting, but at the same time, you know it is still basketball, so you have to take it one game at a time.
Like I said, Lokomotiv is our rival. Both teams' arenas are exactly the same. I guess there's not really much of a home-court advantage, it is basically played in the same place. It's a rivalry and that's always fun. It's two teams that are very similar, have a very rich history. I'm looking forward to the challenge. They are a solid team. I think that they're a bit of a different team since we played earlier in the season, plus we play them in the VTB, in which we are also a different team. This time, we will be able to play all of our players, so it is a different look; they had Alan Williams and Jordan Crawford back then, so the lineups are a little different.
They are a great team and to get to the playoffs, they had to go through a lot of adversity. I think that made them a stronger team for having gone through and been able to come out where they're at right now. That's great and we have to what we have to do, focus and try to do our best. It is definitely a different game, but it's still exciting. And more even more exciting because of the rivalry in the VTB League that we have with them. I think they're a few games behind us in the VTB League. I think we're in a second and they are fourth. It's always fun to play somebody that you play in your league, that you know really well. And yes, I'm excited. I think it's gonna be fun.
I think for us, it all starts on defense. Obviously, our defense has been one of the things that we really pride ourselves on, so I think it's going to all start on the defensive end and they're a very talented offensive team. I think we really gotta be locked in on the defensive end if we want to be able to win and achieve our goal of moving to the next round. So yes, I think it all starts and ends on defense with us. So that, to me, is the key in any of our games.
The quarterfinals are going to be exciting. We have some very interesting series! Obviously, I'm interested to see in the other side of our bracket, Virtus against Joventut. I think that's going to be a really interesting matchup. It should be fun, I am very interested to see how that turns out, obviously, and I think that's a really good series. That's an exciting series that I'm really looking at. And the rest of them, they are good too and I really can't tell you who's gonna come out. It is going to be a battle, I'll tell you that for sure. We play a day ahead of everyone else. We get to know where we stand and we get to watch other teams play, so Tuesday it will be a good day to watch games! That's one of my favorite things to do on the off days: to watch games and especially games that have to do with us and pertain to us. It is gonna be fun.
Both Loko and us are going to play with fans in the stands, which is great! It is going to be one of the most normal playoffs series that they are going to have this year, maybe the only one with fans in all games! So here is a message for UNICS fans out there, who will come to see us play. We have been trying to send a message all year just in the way we have been playing. We obviously want you to come out and support us, and we're a great team to watch. We are fun and we are going to play hard! I'm looking forward to it. It's gonna be fun!