By Semih Tuna/ email@example.com
Asked about what he said earlier in the season when he stated that his team couldn’t be considered a Final Four contender, he explained what kind of mentality he wants Khimki to have.
“What I am trying to build in this team is that no matter who is the opponent we will have to fight”, said Bartzokas. “Even now we need a short-term target. We will have time to think about the playoffs. Right now with this kind of mentality we made it to the playoffs. We have ambitions, but honestly just seeing the time that missed the playoffs, for example, four Spanish teams are behind us, or talented teams, like Efes and Milan, are out. It’s a big accomplishment for the club to be for the first time in the playoffs. Let’s be for one night satisfied I will be able to tell more things after the end of the regular season”.
After all, as Bartzokas said, Khimki’s roster is not used to playing do or die games: “Most of our players don’t have the experience to play such games. We are also missing Honeycutt and we also lost Anderson early in the game. We had a short roster. We had a bad start. We calmed at halftime and we had a really good performance in the second half. We had almost 30 assists, Shved did a great job and also Vyaltsev had a key performance for a second game on the row”.
Speaking of the game, he added: “We had a lot of pressure in the first half, we gave up almost 50 points, but we had a dominating performance in the second half. Efes shot just 30% and we forced them to eight turnovers. It was like a final for us. It’s a big moment for the club. We have in total 16 wins and seven wins on the road, I want to give credit to my players for that. We have three more games in the regular season, we will fight until the end and we will see what we will achieve at the end and where we will be in the standings”,
From his side, Anadolu Efes‘ coach Ergin Ataman said: “Two different games for us. The first half we played perfect – especially on offense, we moved the ball well and found a good shot selection. But in the second half, everything completely changed. We tried to take incredible field goals, especially against a switching man-to-man defense. We didn’t punish the mismatches inside or outside, we missed our shots, had a very low field goal percentage, and finally, in the last five minutes they took control with more confidence.”