Chus Mateo was the spitting image of happiness at the press conference, proud of his team, of his coaching staff, and very grateful to his players, Tavares, Chacho, Llull, Rudy, Hezonja, Ndiaye. .. to all. And with the hope that “the best moment is yet to come”, let it be with La Undécima this Sunday against Olympiacos.
How did you live the change of course in the second part?
In the second half we talked about the situations, that they had scored a lot from three, and that we had to come back defending, rebounding and controlling turnovers. Some players made great defenses against Mirotic and Laprovittola and in the end others controlled the pace very well against an incredible team like Barcelona. I am very happy, because the dream continues, our dream, and we only have one game left. I am very proud of our team, of their pride and their heart.
What did you think of Olympiacos’ comeback?
The Final Four is not easy for anyone. Olympiacos has a lot of experienced people, they reacted very well in the third quarter and showed themselves to be what they are, a very solid team. Now another window opens and let’s see what happens.
Can you say something about three players: Sergio Rodríguez, Llull and Rudy?
They know these kinds of games better than anyone, they know that you have to fight until the end and try to control the pace. My job is easy with these players, fighting together, we come back and now we are going to try to play another title.
How did you think the defense against Mirotic, the role of Ndiaye?
Ndiaye is a boy who has worked very well since the beginning of the season. It was very difficult to put a single player on Mirotic all the time, because it is very difficult to defend him, even if you have studied him very well. There have been many players who have done a great job with him, also Hezonja, Tavares and very good minutes from Randolph.
What do you say to the players at halftime?
Well, we had a choice, last year things were worse and we won. If they leave us alive, if they don’t finish us off, we will always fight to the end. They had scored a lot of three and we knew not to go crazy and wait for the moment. They ended up shooting 39 triples and hitting only 35%, we thought they would end up failing and they did. We didn’t go crazy when they got in and when we found the window and it opened wide, we were already in it. The team has the capacity to suffer, I am very happy with the chemistry that has been created. The season was hard, but hardness helps us get ahead in difficult moments. This team is always subject to what they may say, whether it plays well or badly, but it maintains the collective spirit.
How have you psyched Tavares to reduce his mistakes?
He has realized that, without his friend Poirier, he needs to spend more than 30 minutes on the field for the team to revolve around him. We talk a lot as a team, we don’t have to tell him many things either because he has understood it very well. He is a very good person, who works a lot, and I am glad that things are going so well for him.
How did Chacho infect the rest?
It’s very difficult to stop a player with so much talent, because he’s a trickster with the ball, you don’t know where it is. Sometimes he has shortcomings behind, which he hasn’t had today, but in attack… When he takes out his crutch and starts fighting, it’s fantastic. I am very happy with him and with everyone. We have one game left and we are going to leave our souls to win.
What has happened for this reaction to take place since the 0-2 loss with Partizan?
When we qualified, we thought we had five games left to be champions. And when we were 0-2, we were also five games away. We looked at it like this, we played well and we came back from Belgrade tied. In Madrid it became difficult for us, but we like that even more difficult scenario. The inside game is not the strongest right now, but we have our resources. For me personally, I’m glad to contribute to this group. Hopefully he can help us win the title against a team like Olympiacos, who play very well.
How have you personally stood up to criticism during the season?
I try to play down the drama in defeat and also in victory, although I’m very happy. From the point of view of the club, we always show ambition and desire to compete, and even because of that anxiety we made a mistake in the second game and we focused it badly; but there are many positive things in this team. I’m glad to be a part of this.
What moment is left of these nine months?
Hopefully one to come. The entire Euroleague competition has been very exciting, with games almost every other day, without being able to think too much. If I had to take something from all these days, it is how we have fought in the fourth game in Belgrade to return to Madrid. Celebrating it with my teammates from the coaching staff is very nice. This sport is result-based, but I think we have done a good job.