For a second year in a row we lose one of our key players just before entering the crucial part of the season. Last year David Andersen got injured in January, this year we have just lost David Vanterpool.
The night after the game against Ural-Great in Russian Cup, David was suffering from such a bad back pain that he couldn’t sleep.
A lot of feelings are coming up. First of all, I’m really sorry to see David struggle with his injury. Apparently, he will have to go through a long recovery process and won’t be able to help us in Top 16. It is a big question whether he’ll be able to play before the end of the season.
With all due respect to the rest of the team, we lost the player who has been our strongest leader for a year and a half. In CSKA we have many players with leadership qualities, but David has mental toughness that enables him to play under pressure and help other guys to perform well in crucial moments. He has a great ability to stay calm, but at the same time he has all the excitement and the aggressiveness that is needed in plays under pressure.
We’ll also miss the vocal presence David brings to the team. He’s a kind of person who always helps other people to stay together, to achieve goals together, even in most difficult moments. I’m afraid we will miss tremendously all his qualities.
The only positive moment about David Andersen’s injury last year is that it happened early in January. We had enough time to reset our minds into understanding that we are still able to stay competitive. With David Vanterpool everything has happened extremely quickly, just one week before Top 16 started.
We were looking for a replacement since last Thursday. We understood that a replacement will never be even close to David in terms of his influence on the team, but we needed at least one more experienced player. We're happy that our club management did an excellent job by making a trade and acquiring Oscar Torres from Khimki. He's a good player, but he’s a different kind of player compared to David Vanterpool. Oscar has already helped us against Joventut Badalona. And I'm sure he'll help us a lot in the future.
I’m aware it will take time for the players to adjust and for the team to get reorganized. Everybody in the team needs to understand that we’re no longer one of the favorites, to stop thinking about the best record in Euroleague. We are in a difficult situation and we need to move on game by game, as we did it last year. We need to improve our defense. We hope that our young players will be able to help us.
David was really good at making up for other players’ weaknesses and bad performance. Everybody has to bring a little bit more now. Our leaders will have even more responsibility for the performance quality. They will play under more pressure as they know having a bad day now means that the responsibility is going to young players. We need to be patient and help them to cope with this extra pressure. We need to stay even closer as a team.
It’s not typical of our team to get frustrated or depressed, but the sorrow of losing a true friend and a leader is still in our hearts. I hope our fans will understand and support us.
The game against Khimki showed that we were readjusting ourselves, but the process is not over yet. We missed our intensity and our aggressiveness. Our game was a little bit sloppy. We deserved to lose that game.
You need to lose sometimes to understand how important is to focus on details. It’s very painful, though. We will learn from that loss, for sure. Last year we learnt a lot from our loss to Spartak Saint-Petersburg early in the season. We work together to overcome problems.