By Semih Tuna/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Larkin was the protagonist of Anadolu Efes’ big win over Real Madrid with 18 points and eight assists. His decisive play helped the Turkish side get a result that keeps them alive in a very close race for the playoffs and while the reigning back-to-back champions are still far from checking a spot in the postseason.
After the game, Larkin talked to Eurohoops about how different Efes was in comparison to some surprising defeats, Chris Singleton’s and Elijah Bryant’s contributions, and the urgency that he and his teammates have to show in the remaining games for the back-to-back champions to make it to the playoffs.
How are you feeling?
“I’m good. That was a big win. It has been a tough last couple of days for me. Getting a big win in front of our fans was big for us.”
It was one of the most intense games of the season, wasn’t it?
“Obviously, we feel the pressure now. It’s towards the end of the season and we’re fighting for a playoff spot. And we know that every game is a must-win for us pretty much. We came out here against a great team, put a big effort on both sides of the ball and we took a huge win.”
What has changed compared to other games?
“I just think today we put a concentrated effort on defense. picking up full court. Picking up on the ball. Pressure full court. Elijah was being aggressive on the pick-n-rolls. Obviously, that’s a great team. They have a lot of great scorers. Great ball movement, athleticism, and size. But we just had a fight. I think the last time we were here we didn’t fight the way we were supposed to and it was embarrassing. Not just because we missed shots or whatever the case was but because the efforts weren’t there.
Some days you’ll make shots, and some days you won’t make shots but the effort always has to be there. Regardless of what was going to happen tonight, we said that the effort needed to be there. I think we did that and we got a big win.”
You mentioned Elijah. Also, Chris Singleton had a huge impact on the floor. What would you like to say about that?
“Chris is a huge player. a guy who can take our team to the next level. He showed that tonight. Whenever Chris is on, making shorts, getting deflections, getting blocks. He had a big steal on [Guerschon] Yabusele, he had a big rebound, and Chris knocked it off his leg. Just all these little things that Chris does that aren’t always on the stats sheet. But he’s just one of those unique guys that can impact a game even without scoring or rebounds. He did that tonight. Elijah also. Over the last month, he’s probably one of our most consistent guys. Scoring the ball, defense, and rebounding. He’s also doing those small things, hustle, strong play. Those guys were huge for us tonight. every single night, we have a great team. It’s going to have different guys. we just got to stay strong, stay together, fight, and try to get big wins.”
Do you think that this game could be a turning point for the season?
“I hope so. Obviously, we don’t have that much time left. If today isn’t the turning point, then I don’t know if there’ll be one. Backs against the wall. Every game matters. Got to win, win to get in. Now it’s time to show up and see who we really are. I think that we’ve shown over the last couple of years that we have the character to go out and do things that people aren’t probably expecting of us. A lot of people are doubting us right now. We just got to go out there and do our best to prove them wrong. Try to come out here and make the playoffs. Try to make another run at it.”
Coach Ergin Ataman said that you checked in at the hospital last week and you stayed two nights. Surgery was avoided at the last minute. What happened and how do you feel now?
“I feel better. Obviously not 100 percent. As you said, surgery wasn’t necessary. I’m still dealing with some things but I just want to be out here with my teammates. Give everything I can. If the doctors say that I’m fine to go out there and play, that’s what I’m going to do. You know, it’s not time to rest, it’s not time to try and sit out games. It’s time to go out here and do everything I can to the best of my abilities. Some days I’m going to feel good, some days I won’t feel good. Right now, it’s put up or shut up. I’m going to try my best and see what we can do.”