Sarunas Jasikevicius: “Madrid is a very smart team” 7
Zalgiris is getting ready for one of the season’s toughest matchups as they take on Real Madrid, who’ve now won 12 consecutive games in the EuroLeague. Sarunas Jasikevicius spoke to the media gathered in Wizink arena, and he remembered last year’s battle that allowed Zalgiris to step into the playoffs.
“Nothing but the memories from here. Nobody really believed what could happen here, and the situation we put ourselves in. We were very happy. But then again, this was last year, we need to forget it.”
We symbolically start the second round of EuroLeague. What are your hopes before this 17-game series?
“We definitely aren’t looking at it as a 17-game series. We’re taking it one game at a time. We’re thinking of how to beat Madrid, and it can’t be any other way. The system doesn’t change, we just need to improve our game, and get closer to the potential of what we could be.”
Real hasn’t lost since the beginning of November and are on a 12-game winning streak. What impression have they left for you?
“They haven’t lost only in the EuroLeague. Barcelona has shown, and other teams as well, that no teams are perfect. They are vulnerable in some places and we need to know what to attack, what to give away, what not to give away… The main accents are three-pointers and fast breaks. Only if we can stop them, we can expect a good result.”
In the first meeting, LeDay was punishing Real inside. The bigs were shooting threes to draw Tavares out. What sort of defensive adjustments do you expect in this game?
“We’ll see. They have a very smart team with a very experienced head coach. They will make adjustments. In Villeurbanne, they started with a zone defense and a very big five. You have to look at it whether it’s injury difficulties, or something they wanted to try out. But overall, in the last two or three years, we’d see a bit of zone from them. It will all depend on how we play. Their coach has a very clear philosophy to shut down the paint. To keep Tavares in there. Basically everything other teams try to do to them.”
What do they lose with the injuries from Deck, Randolph, Llull. What are the players that might step up?
“Thompkins has been playing a very good stretch, as he’s changed Randolph. Perhaps the plays change a bit, but the idea is very similar to Randolph. They started Thompkins at the three in Villeurbanne, which was really a surprise. Rudy Fernandez is playing a really good stretch, standing in for Llull. A lot of the game depends on Campazzo. Trying to limit his minutes in Kaunas was one of the factors. He’s the one to guide the team forward.”
How is Marius Grigonis progressing? Any updates?
“Marius took off the brace just a couple days ago. Now everything depends on the rehabilitation. But as far as I know, it’s not going to be a very quick process. I would think that he’ll be back before the end of the regular season, but again, this would be more of a guess for me.”