Matt Costello on bouncing back after “terrible” Tuesday to make it to the playoffs

2024-04-20T11:20:17+00:00 2024-04-21T11:59:48+00:00.

Cesare Milanti

20/Apr/24 11:20

Baskonia’s power forward gave his thoughts after eliminating Virtus Bologna in the Play-In Showdown

By Cesare Milanti /

VITORIA-GASTEIZ, Spain – Taking Virtus Bologna under control before halftime, Matt Costello was almost perfect from the field to contribute with 10 points for Baskonia, keeping the focus shaped ahead of the second half in the most important game of the season thus far.

Dusko Ivanovic’s team had a completely different face after coming back to the court of the Fernando Buesa Arena, basically mimicking what Maccabi Tel Aviv did to Baskonia in the first game of the EuroLeague Play-In. “Tuesday was terrible. In Belgrade, Maccabi just smacked us. We really had to show something today”, the 30-year-old power forward told Eurohoops after the game.

Huge credit in his team’s 89-77 victory must be rightfully given to him, ending the game with a second-to-best team-high in PIR (23), delivering 19 points over 5/10 from the field and 6/6 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed 5 rebounds, got 2 assists and one steal, and never missed the ball. “I’ll let other people talk about me”, he commented keeping it humble in the post-game.

Bringing Baskonia back to the EuroLeague Playoffs five years in the making is a good full-circle story, because they “all have something to prove, all the guys who are here”. Having faced them in the Regular Season Round 34, they knew Virtus Bologna was a good opponent to face. “We came out and played a solid matchup against Bologna… we match up well against them personal-wise”, Matt Costello said.

“I think we were able to take advantage of our matchups and we got the win, playing really good team defense today”, he affirmed, managing to keep Luca Banchi’s players on 8/26 from beyond the arc, forcing 16 turnovers. Talking about specific head-to-head clashes, Tornike Shengelia was heavily limited in the first half, while Achille Polonara only scored 3 points against his former team.

Making the extra effort for second-chance opportunities

With that being said, Baskonia’s triumph mainly came thanks to an unbelievable scoring performance from Markus Howard, ending with a team-high 28 points over 8/19 from beyond the arc. “Being able to push up for us in that third quarter is just incredible”, he first said about the American guard.

Matthew Costello emphasized the team’s collective effort which made Baskonia’s number 0’s performance shine even brighter. “He hit shots, but we had Nikos [Rogkavopoulos] and Maik [Kotsar] with the offensive rebounds, the defensive presence, to be able to give Markus [Howard] those second-chance opportunities”, he firmly commented.

“Markus [Howard] takes the first shot and misses half the time, but to be able to swing the ball out to him again and give him an open shot really speaks of our team willing to sacrifice for each other and be successful. Hopefully, we will carry this on”, Ivory Coast’s forward positively said after the win.

While Dusko Ivanovic said in the post-game press conference that Chima Moneke would not be available in the best-of-five series against Real Madrid, hope remains. “He’s one of our best players, in both leagues. He moves the needle for us a little bit”, he said about his Nigerian teammate.

“Kinda like how Markus [Howard] does his thing, Chima [Moneke] can take over the game as well. Trying to get him healthy and ready, I don’t know if he’s gonna be there, he’s doing rehab every day trying to get straight. We have to wait and see”, Matt Costello finally said, crossing his fingers ahead of such an important appointment for the Basque team.

Five years ago, Matthew Costello was playing his first overseas season with Scandone Avellino, probably not knowing a lot about Baskonia. In yesterday’s do-or-die game, he stepped up big time to give these fans the chance to live again what the EuroLeague Playoffs truly mean.


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