MoraBanc Andorra guard Oriol Pauli returns with his blog before the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals to talk about his team's situation and its opponent on Tuesday, Frutti Extra Bursaspor of Turkey. Andorra comes off a quarterfinals road win against his former team, Gran Canaria, with whom Pauli reached the EuroCup Finals in 2015. Seven years later, he is aiming for a return!
Oriol Pauli, Andorra: 'It will be a hell of a game'
As you probably know, it is being a strange season for us. We are trying to avoid relegation in the Spanish League and at the same time, we made it to the EuroCup Semifinals. It is a bit strange, but it is what it is right now. We have to be happy about the work we did in the EuroCup, all season long. We did well, even when we didn't get the same results in the Spanish League. We kept winning and playing well in the EuroCup, and that allowed us to have more self-confidence and self-belief. We are in a complicated situation now in which the main goal is to avoid relegation and stay in the Spanish League, but at the same we have a great opportunity in the EuroCup. We have not only matched the club's best result to date in the EuroCup, be we playing the semifinal at home on Tuesday. Anything can happen and are looking forward to it!
We beat my former team Gran Canaria in the quarterfinals thanks to great defense down the stretch. It also happened to us in a Spanish League game against Burgos the previous weekend. Both were close games in which good defense allowed us to grow as a team. I think this is what we have to do, believe in our defense. We have more confidence now because in both games we were down 12 or 14 points, but the team kept working and never gave up. Those two wins were important and gave us a push for the final games of the season, which will be really hard.
Oscar Quintana is our new coach. We were struggling before he came, and it wasn't easy. Oscar brought us fresh air and full trust in our skills. As soon as he arrived, he told us that he had signed for Andorra because he knew that we were great players who can change the current situation. He is making things simpler, too. When you have played a lot of games and had many losses and bad moments, you need a little bit of simplicity in terms of scouting and how we play. That has given us more freedom on the court because each player can focus on what he gives to the team and how to do it.
I feel confident right now. In the end, all these changes, especially when you switch coaches, affected us whether we liked it or not. But I am in a good moment, playing with confidence, physically strong and looking forward to helping the team in the EuroCup and in the Spanish League. We have to keep winning games and keep our spot in the Spanish League. It is almost the end of the season and all players feel physically and mentally tired, but in my case, I am feeling good. I hope I can stay like that until the end of the season and help Andorra reach our goals.
We played our EuroCup Quarterfinals game a day before the one between Cedevita and Bursaspor, so we had the chance to watch them and find out about our next opponent. We were watching a bit of it on the bus while we were still on our way back from Gran Canaria. I watched the second half at home. Those halves were very different. In the first, Bursaspor dominated. We were amazed to see them play like that. Cedevita bounced back in the second half and was close to winning it, but Jacob Pullen's shot came after the buzzer. All the games that I have seen in the EuroCup Playoffs are similar in the sense that this is a unique opportunity and no team wants to waste it. This is why we have seen epic comebacks. We have to be ready for everything. It is one game and everything can happen!
In all honesty, we wanted to play at home to avoid a long trip. It has been a long season and we traveled a lot. Road trips from Andorra are not easy and wanted to play at home also to have more energy for the next Spanish League game. The more we can stay here, the better we will prepare, so we wanted Bursaspor to win so that we could play the semifinal at home, in front of our people.
It is no secret that we will need to stop Andrew Andrews if we want to win the game. We watched their game against Partizan, all of us together at my place. We freaked out on the way Andrews controlled the game from the beginning until the end in such a tough place to play like Belgrade. They have good shooters like John Holland, who is also experienced. They play as a team, not as a bunch of individuals. They know how to play together, helping each other. It will be a tough opponent; not every team wins in Belgrade and Ljubljana. Right now, they are full of confidence and not bothered about playing at home or on the road. It will be a hell of a game.
I don't know if you saw Holland's video on social media of his halftime interview from the quarterfinal game. We didn't make any interview saying we are pit bulls, but we have a lot of energy and are willing to play against them, beat them and make it to the final. It has been a long season, but the team is confident and focused right now. We know what we have to do, we are very aggressive on defense, and we play at home, at 'La Bombonera'. It is a small court, and they have a long trip ahead of them. Those factors work in our favor. And they may be pit bulls, but we have 'The Wolf', Codi Miller-McIntyre! Codi is playing with amazing confidence and is helping us a lot. He knows what the team needs and I hope he plays another great game. That will probably mean we will have a better chance to reach the EuroCup Final!