Βy Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
CSKA Moscow is probably the less popular team of the Final Four, but that’s not a problem for the players of the Army Team. On the contrary, having “haters” can be an extra motivation as Cory Higgins explains to Eurohoops.
The veteran guard who had a stellar season remains one of the most overlooked but on the other hand, one of the most important players in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and he is ready to prove that at Vitoria.
– Your coach, Dimitris Itoudis, said that the “haters” give you extra motivation. Do you feel that it’s CSKA vs the world in the Final Four?
“I think this statement is fairly true because when you’re a part of CSKA it’s always ‘championship or bust,’ it’s not enough to get to the Final Four, it’s just a stepping stone. So, I wouldn’t say this season is any different. The goal is the same and that’s to win the championship.
I think, in all walks of life, haters give you more motivation to prove them wrong. I think everybody on this team and this organization has had somebody that’s doubted them, someone, that they need to prove wrong, and we definitely feel that way. Our fan base – while we’re a very popular team – might be the smallest one at the Final Four. But we’re a very tight-knit group and the people that are coming with us to Spain are all we need to get the job done”.
– Contrary to other seasons CSKA seemed to have its shares of ups and downs. What’s your explanation?
“Since I’ve been here we’ve always had ups and downs. It seems like, during the season, we might hit a little rough patch but there’s no explanation for this. I think that’s just how basketball seasons go. I wouldn’t say this season had more ups and downs than others. If I’m not mistaken, we might have almost the same record as last year, when we finished first by three games or however many it was. So, I just think that’s part of the long season”.
– Do you feel like a star? Because you surely play like one?
“I would never say I feel like a star because that’s just my mentality. I just like to provide whatever the team needs and I feel confident in myself because I can do many different things on the court. So, it might change from game to game but, that’s the bottom line, I just try to fill the holes that the team needs because I think I can do different things on the court”.
– What do you expect from Real Madrid in the semifinal?
“We expect that it’s going to be a fight. It’s just one game so you can’t really say you expect anything but the ultimate fight. There are no real predictions for the game. It’s just one game, you have to leave everything out there on the court and hopefully, in the end, you’re the one standing with the win”.
– What’s your approach to the biggest games of the season?΄
“My approach stays the same for most games of the year: just rely on my faith and try to be the best person I can be, the best teammate I can be and just control what you can control, and usually, things work out for the better”.
– What will be the key in order to win the EuroLeague?
“The key will definitely be the fight we bring to every single possession, the little things that will add up in the game. Every single possession is a game-winning play in do-or-die games like this. So, that’s going to be the key, and just staying together through the ups and downs of the game”.
– We are living a basketball era that combo guards dominating. But you, you offering us pure clinics of the Shooting Guard position! Your game is full of quality and effectiveness both ways at the court! What helped you to step up and being so dominant through all season long?
“I would say my work ethic. I think, since I first came to CSKA, I’ve had a nice progression and I’ve been able to get better within the system and with my teammates, and I think that just comes with how I work, especially in the off-season. I think you get what you put into the game and that’s the main thing, hard work. I like to say hard work is undefeated so, that’s the main thing, my work ethic”.
– You are a free agent in the summer. What’s your priority? To chase the NBA dream, to stay at CSKA, or you want to take advantage of your great season and explore all your options before you decide?
“I’m definitely going to explore all options and then whatever makes the most sense for my family and me is going to be where I decide to make the next step”.
– Time for predictions! Give us your picks for EuroLeague season MVP, EuroLeague champions, F4 MVP, NBA season MVP, NBA Champions and NBA Finals MVP.
“For the NBA, I think the champions – I really have no idea this year – but I’m going to go with the Warriors again. I think the NBA MVP will be Giannis this year. The Finals MVP I think will be Durant, again. As far as the Final Four, I don’t have any predictions for that. Just that CSKA will win the title”.