It’s true. Winning a final on the last action, on a basket from Sergio Llull, 0 points before his shot… We simply believed in it. Olympiakos had taken a six-point lead. At the end, we put the old ones. We saw the character of Real. It smiled on us. On the last three seconds, I ask the coach to put me on (Kostas) Sloukas, whom I had already defended and countered on the last possession of the 2018 final (Real victory against Fenerbahçe). He could have scored because I lost my balance on his fake body. If he puts it, I’m six feet under at the moment, but there are matches like that, where when we believe in it to the end, it smiles on us. Chacho (Sergio Rodriguez) puts in a capital 3-point shot that leaves us in it, he plays an exceptional match.
We still showed heart and “cojones”
It is true that it was a turning point. I don’t wanna talk about the fight episode, lamentable on both sides, certainly. There were fines, penalties. But what we achieved is all the more rewarding as Guerschon (Yabusele) missed us, he could have brought on Sacha Vezenkov in defense. We had to do some tactical tinkering. But we still showed heart and “cojones”. It’s our mentality, we believe in it all the time. You shouldn’t have any regrets about matches like that. You have to give everything, and basketball is often generous when you have that mentality.
You once again perform a great game in a meeting under high pressure. How do you raise your level in these moments?
I am preparing for this. I am very meticulous in my work. People can no longer believe it’s luck, or a game. It’s my fifth Final Four, and apart from the first in 2016 with Vitoria where I played 3 minutes because of a back injury, I perform well every time. I just lacked success last year. I haven’t been in the rotation too much for the past few weeks, and today, after five minutes, Chus Mateo brings me in. A sign that he knows that these are the kind of moments that I appreciate… I am very happy for him, by the way. I’m the first to complain when he doesn’t play me, but he’s taken so much criticism this season. He deserves to receive these praises because to beat Zeljko Obradovic (the coach of Partizan Belgrade) while trailing 0-2; Sarunas Jasikevicius (Barcelona) with the team they have and Georgios Bartzokas in the final, it’s not given to everyone.
My wife this morning was in the hospital […] I knew I would give my all for her
Is it a form of apotheosis after a complicated start to the season?
Yes, I had injuries, I lost an important member of my family… My wife, this morning, moreover, was in the hospital, I was disconnected. But Real took care of her and she was able to be there tonight. I knew I was going to give everything for her.
Can we say that it is a Spanish victory?
You can say what you want (he’s laughing). I don’t know, but I’ve seen them win so many times like that, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull and Sergio Rodriguez… I’m happy to be in their team for six years.
Is this the most beautiful of your titles?
He is at the top, clearly, with Belgrade (Euroleague 2018). Which of the two is better, I don’t know, but they are similar because in both cases we are not favorites when we reach the Final Four. The room was full for Fenerbahçe in 2018, like this evening with Olympiakos. And there, we were still without Gabriel Deck, Petr Cornelie, Vincent Poirier, Guerschon Yabusele… With this crazy scenario on top of that. Hot, on emotion, this is the one that seems the most beautiful to me, but we will have to think about it again (laughs). »