Messina OnlineThis year we lost two games. One to Pau-Ortez and the other to Kazan. These losses made a fuss. CSKA is expected to win every single game even if it doesn't always seem realistic.
Our loss to Pau was caused by poor physical shape of some players and injuries of some others. These two reasons did not allow us to perform well. In the last quarter, when we were up by 8 points, we felt that even with the injuries and lack of shape we still could win it. We got relaxed and were not ready to react to their zone defense.
Our away game against UNICS was a completely different one. We had a very good win over Barcelona behind us. We were in the perfect mental shape and were ready to show a great game in Kazan.
As it sometimes happens, it turned out that we spent too much mental energy against Barcelona. Also we made a mistake forgetting that it wasn't exactly the same team we had defeated last year. They made some changes in the roster and invited a new coach. As a result they were playing more consistently.
It's true that sometimes losing a game proves very useful. But it also proves extremely painful. You cannot win every time. The key to a great season is losing some big games, but only if they do not affect your standings. That's what I call therapy losses.
If I coached a team that would face CSKA, I would show my players a video of the game UNICS-CSKA. At the same time you must understand: to play the way Kazan played you need to have the same kind of players UNICS has.
I must admit we also made a few mistakes while preparing our defense for this game. When you face Kazan, the most important thing is organizing a good defense against their pick-and-roll. Their pick-and-roll is dangerous because their big men, especially Krzysztof Lavrinovic and Meshcharakou, can get open and shoot 3-pointers as well as they can roll into the paint if guarded by a smaller defender. However the most important thing was that they were extremely focused and extremely determined, while we were not.
Now it's a matter of the past. I think we bounced back pretty well after that moment. We had a lot of good wins and a lot of good games.
Kazan has just lost a big game to Dynamo Moscow, while we defeated Dynamo at home. Now the season is open again. Everything depends on us. If we play a good game, we will be able to win. Of course, it's going to be difficult, because UNICS might cause us lots of problems with their pick-and-roll and outside shooting.
Since I know my team, every time the players were challenged, they responded really well. They will have a great motivation for this game.