Before anything else, I would like to thank our fans for helping the team make it to the finals. Our fans really gave us a home-court advantage in all the games. The game against Joventut was really tough and there was an incredible, incredible atmosphere. I would say it was the best crowd we have had so far. The fan support really has been huge throughout the whole season and to get a win in front of them against a great Joventut team was huge. There was a lot going on around the game to encourage fans to come to Gran Canaria Arena and cheer for us. Throughout the season, we have had terrific support and I think playing a semifinal game, it was exciting and special for not only the players but the fans as well. I think it was a fantastic environment.
John Shurna, Gran Canaria: 'It's going to be a battle'
It was a tough game, too. If you watched it, you will remember that Joventut never gave up, they kept fighting. They were hitting shot after shot. From a broad perspective, looking at each semifinal game, you have, I would say, four really deep teams where lots of different guys step up and make plays. In the third quarter, we were able to get a couple of stops and gain some momentum there, but throughout the game, it was back and forth. Joventut is a great team with a lot of talent and it's well-coached, so it was a hard-fought match as expected and we were fortunate to come away with the victory. We knew Joventut would fight until the end, and that's exactly what they did. Thankfully, Nico Brussino knocked down enough free throws at the end of the game for us.
Finally, I am in the EuroCup final! Like I said in my latest blog entry, I lost two semifinals before, in 2019 and 2022. Especially in this format, we are excited and happy for the win, but now there is one more game and we are focused on Turk Telekom, which is obviously a great team. It is going to be another hard-fought match. Drew [Andrew Albicy] and I shared a moment right after the game that was special. It was a quick moment where we realized we finally made it to the final! All that being said, now the focus is on the final.
We have played Turk Telekom twice and both came down to the final minutes. Once again it’s going to take great effort from our entire team. I think that has been a huge strength of our team. If you go down the roster, we have a lot of talented and unselfish guys that play for the team and I think that's showing here throughout the season and here in the playoffs as well, and that has been great for us. We will have to give it our best effort for the final.
Turk Telekom proved throughout the season what a great team they are, whether it be in the Turkish league, in which they are in first place, and in our EuroCup group, they were the number two seed. I think they have shown they really know how to win and have a lot of talented guys and a great coaching staff. I saw some of the highlights from their game against Prometey and everybody on the floor stepped up for them and made plays on both the offensive and defensive ends. So I think it's a really talented team that stays poised throughout the game. It's going to be a really tough game, but hey, what can you expect for a EuroCup final?
We have players who won European finals. Damien Inglis won the EuroCup with Monaco. Vitor Benite and Miquel Salvo have also won European competitions in the past. Anyone who has these experiences of playing in a final, a single-elimination game with a title on the line, has an advantage. There are players who have stepped up in situations like this and have been there before, and that experience will be helpful for us, I am sure.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the final and we have to be focused on Turk Telekom. They are a fantastic team and it's going to be a battle. Both teams will leave everything they have on the floor. We will play at home again and I hope to see an even better atmosphere at Gran Canaria Arena! Vamos Granca!