John Holland of UNICS Kazan checks back with a blog post right before the most important game so far this season. "We have no choice now," he explained in his blog ahead of Game 3.
John Holland, UNICS: 'We have to weather the storm'
First of all, it's been a great playoff series between us and Virtus and it's amazing to be a part of it. This is what you play for! These are the moments, two great teams going at it, just trying to give everything they got to win and obviously, it's going to be a good one on Wednesday. We won Game 2 and took the series back to Bologna. I think it all really starts from our defense, just being locked in and aggressive. Throughout the year, that's what we've relied on. Obviously, we have great, great defensive players. We have Zhbanov, John Brown... We have guys like that, but everybody is helping each other and bringing energy to the defensive end. It has been our focus all year, so we just have to keep that up.
Nate Wolters was a great, great boost for us, and he's a real professional. To take all that time off, come back and kind of not miss a beat, that's a real testament to his work ethic. His professionalism is really amazing! He was able to come in and be so effective. Isaiah Canaan also stepped up big. It is easy because we've been rolling with him all year. He's been there for us all year, so we are going to be with him to the end. He is going to keep shooting. We just tell him to keep shooting because we knew it was not going to last. Everybody has his back and we are going to roll with him. So it is not hard to stick with him because that's our guy and he has been our guy all year.
With Nate back, I think Game 2 was one of the first games in a while that we had a whole team. It's just something that we need to win, our guards are really important, and especially in this series going up against some great, great guards. So we definitely need everybody to step up and I think you saw that in Kazan. JT [Jordan Theodore] stepped up big, Nate stepped up big, Sip [Isaiah Canaan] stepped up big, and that's what we are going to need on Wednesday.
We will need to be more focused, too, because we were up by 18 in Game 2 and Virtus came back. I just think we kind of let our foot off the gas a little bit. I think we might have started looking at the score and us being up instead of just keep going, and there was still a lot of time left, obviously, in the game. We kind of let them back in because we stopped being as aggressive, I think. So we got to just keep on them, keep our foot on the gas and continue to play. They are a great team and have a lot of pride, so they are not just going to back down. We have to weather the storm and keep going.
We have no choice now. I am just happy we got the win, that we were able to pull it out and. Right now, it's all about one game on Wednesday where anything can happen, and hopefully, we'll come out on top. Virtus is a great team... and great victories require great opponents, and I think we have a great one, so we have an opportunity for a great victory and to do something special.
In Game 1, Teodosic kind of took over down the stretch. We made some mistakes and they capitalized. And so we weren't able to get the win, but that's what they do. They are a good team and we can't make those mistakes. We have to capitalize on their mistakes and have to do a better job of execution, just trying to finish out the game at the end. We had a little trouble, even in Game 2, finishing it out. But we have been working on it and hopefully, we will be able to get the job done.
Belinelli played really well in Game 2. I think we understand what he and Teodosic bring and what they can do. I mean, it's obvious. So there are no secrets anymore, it is going to be the third time we play them. We understand what we're trying to do. We understand the things that they are looking for and we just have to stop it. And obviously, we have great players on our side. It's easier said than done, that's what it is, that's the type of game it is going to be. It is going to come down to it and hopefully, at the end of the day, we will do the things that we have to do to get the win.
It is a chance to win a European title and maybe to go to the EuroLeague. I mean, not like we need any more motivation, but that's another factor, that's something that is out there. I think we are focused on the task at hand and that's just trying to beat Virtus. That's the only thing that really is on our mind, just to be locked in for that. All of the other stuff that comes with it, with the win, is great, and that's going to be there, but right now, none of it happens without the win!