First things first, we beat Paris and made it to the semifinals. It was great to get a win in front of a great crowd, a great atmosphere. We knew that Paris obviously is a high-powered offensive team and in the first quarter, it was back and forth and not much defense, really. But we were able to settle down a little bit, played better on defense and were able to get some stops and scores and transition, and then played well in the last three quarters. Damien Inglis came off the bench and gave us a big boost. I think it is important getting key contributions from everyone. Each game is a single-elimination one so everybody has to be focused, locked in, giving their best and trying to contribute however they can to help the team.
John Shurna, Gran Canaria: 'We are excited for the game'
I was fortunate to have a strong start but it could have been anyone, really. I think that throughout the season we have shown we have a lot of talented guys on our team. And the way the defense was being played early in the game, my teammates were finding me in positions to score. We got contributions from everyone, and we have a lot of talented and unselfish guys, so I think you could go down our entire roster and see we got key contributions from everyone and it was a good team win. Again, we had a great crowd, especially for a late start. I wasn't sure what kind of crowd we were going to get but our fans have been terrific and to have such great support for an important game like that was great. And of course, getting a win for them made it even better.
It was important for us to get the home-court advantage for all the playoffs. Playing in front of our crowd is huge and not having to go on such long travels is definitely beneficial for everyone's bodies. So I think having a strong regular season and just having that sort of consistency as a team has been important for us, especially now that we have a really tough test against Joventut. With all the extra time not traveling around, we have been practicing and focusing on each of these games, the EuroCup Playoffs and the final regular-season games in the ACB, trying to make a push for the playoffs. It's a lot of important and intense games, so I am trying to make sure I am recovering and preparing for each game. Also, getting quality time with my family has been great.
Both teams obviously know each other very well. I played for Joventut, even our president Sitapha Savane played for Joventut... and we played together there! We faced them two weeks ago, too. They are obviously a great team. They have a lot of talent. You go down their entire roster and they have a great team that has played well in both the EuroCup and the ACB, and it is definitely a tough matchup, but we are excited for the game. Tomic has been a guy who has been playing at a high level for an incredibly long time. He is someone who reads the game really well and can score and pass and rebound. He is great! He is almost like another point guard on the court with his vision and decision-making. And then they have a lot of talent, I could name their whole roster. You have Vives, Feliz, Guy, Ventura, Busquets, who played well against Hapoel. You have Parra, you have Ellenson, you have Brodziansky, Birgander... Hopefully, I'm not missing someone there. But like I said, it is a deep team who gets contributions from everyone and Tomic is obviously a phenomenal player.
We are aware that a win sends us to the final and that we are two victories away from winning the title. Still, it is very important to focus on the game ahead and it is a really tough game against a great Joventut team. We are going to try our best to be focused and leave it all out on the floor. I have been fortunate to reach the EuroCup Semifinals twice, along with Andrew Albicy and Oliver Stevic: with Andorra in 2018, we lost against ALBA Berlin; and with Gran Canaria in 2021, we lost against Monaco. We have to stay focused on the game ahead because it is going to be a really tough one. I am sure our fans will give us a big boost. I hope to see you at Gran Canaria Arena on Wednesday!