Nikola Mirotic (2.08m and 32 years old) is in full maturity and in good shape, coming to the end of the season in good shape after missing the first few months due to injury. The Barcelona star is chasing his first title in his sixth Final Four, in four of them he played the Clásico in the semifinals, the first two with the white shirt and the last two with the azulgrana.
What goes through your head hours before facing your sixth Final Four and facing Real Madrid?
We have worked a lot to get here and now it is also time to enjoy something. A lot of things go through my head, but I try not to think about it too much, because every time I do it the butterflies start to feel in my body. It is a special Clásico and there is a lot of desire to play it. The team arrives well, at a good time and prepared, but the important thing is to show it.
What Madrid do you expect?
The same as always, a great team, very competitive and with great experience, who knows how to play these games. And a team that we all want to win. It will not be easy and there is no favourite. The important thing is to have a good start and stay calm, because it can be long and we must be prepared for anything. We want to impose our rhythm, that is key.
Do Madrid casualties count?
I think not now. We also don’t have Cory Higgins, who is super important. It’s just one game, if it were three… maybe yes. I don’t see it as decisive. We know very well what they are capable of, we know the importance of Tavares, which is the only five of him. We must be very smart to face these situations and close the rebound.
Without Yabusele or Deck, who is going to defend him…? Hezonja, Ndiaye…?
It’s a good question, but I don’t know, you tell me… I would like to know. Here I see Felipe Reyes (he greets him and smiles), I don’t know if he’s going to put on his shirt to defend me. I don’t know, I think it’s not a question of a position, who defends me, but that everything has to be more collective. We must leave the individual things, focus on shining as a team and be ready for any type of defense. In the end, nobody knows for sure who is going to defend me, who is going to defend Laprovittola… if they are going to put themselves in a zone or not. We are prepared for everything.
Do you remember last year’s defeat?
It is not something that is easily forgotten, especially if you face the same rival. But that sure was a lesson, that if you go up ten you can’t relax because they know how to return to the game.
Do you feel that this year you are closer to winning?
If we succeed, I answer. We see ourselves with capacity, but I think that the four teams feel they have a chance of winning, all four of us have earned it. We are two games away from the title, but we have to count one by one.