Real Madrid's star forward and head coach both spoke after Tuesday's road win at Olympiacos about the keys to the victory.
Dzanan Musa, Chus Mateo demand even more from Real Madrid
According to the man who did the most to fire league-leading Real Madrid to victory at Olympiacos Piraeus on Tuesday night, the seeds of the triumph were sowed in July and August.
Dzanan Musa fired a season-high 23 points, making 5 of his 7 three-point attempts, as Real held off the Reds, 71-77, to pile on more pain following its victory over the same opponent in last season’s EuroLeague Championship Game. He made 2 of his 4 attempts from two-point range and stayed cool to convert all 4 of his free throws.
The 24-year-old forward has once again been a highly consistent scoring presence for the title holders, averaging 11.5 points per game and scoring in double digits for the last seven in a row.
Dzanan Musa: 'I was able to make the shots'
Reflecting on the win, Musa explained that his scoring prowess has been helped by dedication during the off-season, telling EuroLeagueTV: ”I’m trying to stay focused and locked in, and I worked a lot in the summer on my shooting.”
For a player who was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team at the end of last season and finished the previous campaign as the Spanish league’s top scorer, that’s an impressive level of dedication to improving an already stellar skillset.
And Musa revealed another character trait – selflessness – as he added: “All credit to my teammates for finding me, and I was able to make the shots.”
Putting on the clamps on defense
Musa’s scoring wasn’t the only factor behind Real’s on Tuesday, as head coach Chus Mateo admitted that his team’s ability to finish the game by holding Olympiacos to just 3 points in the last 5 minutes was inspired by the previous week’s overtime loss at Fenerbahce.
“Always a defeat makes you think a little bit more,” Mateo said. “When you win [several games] in a row sometimes you think you’re unbeatable and this is not true. We’ve got to work every day to win, whoever [we play against], not only the big teams like Olympiacos today.”
And with both star player and coach singing from the same hymn sheet about the need for constant self-improvement, no matter how great their past achievements might have been, it’s no surprise that Real Madrid is riding high at the top of the standings as it defends its title.