Carlos Cabezas's blog
Greetings from Moscow, Euroleague fans. You don't need me to tell you, but I will anyway: it's a long way from Malaga to Moscow!
Or to be more precise, from Marbella, where I grew up, to Moscow Region, where I now play for Khimki, one of the new teams in the Euroleague this season. I have been here for almost a month, and for sure it's a different lifestyle from where I grew up. But I also think that's the case wherever you go if, like I did, you spent your whole career in one place, the same place you grew up. For that reason, I can say that here in Russia, I am more focused on family and the team, training and maybe spending more time at home. It goes without saying that it's a lot colder here, even in October, so you might not go out as much because of the weather, first of all. It's a very big country, very big capital area, but most of all very interesting, with great places to visit, great shopping. Moscow really has everything. We are enjoying ourselves already, and we know we have a lot more to see!
As you might know, Raul Lopez and I came here as a package from Spain, both point guards, both from the Spanish national team, and both of us played before for Sergio Scariolo, our coach here. We don't live in the same building — about five minutes apart — and to get to practice, it takes us about 20 minutes without traffic. Of course, traffic here can be an odyssey, so we have to be careful. But in general we have good connections to the arena and the city center, so on weekends, and sometimes at night after we play, when there's less traffic, we can go to the city center and have a look around. Especially on the weekends we've been able to see things, go to a football game, and just notice that the people are very ‘tranquilo’ and that makes it easy to feel comfortable here. We were a little worried in the summer because our national teammate Jorge Garbajosa, who played here with Khimki last season, was joking to kind of scare us. But in the end, he helped us a lot. He gave us a list of the best places to go and shop in order to get our bearings a bit. Besides that, the club has been helping us a lot, both us and our families. We knew before coming that things would go well when we got settled, and it's already happening.
Of course, things certainly went well for us on the court in our Euroleague opener. For us, it was a really important game. For the club, that was especially true, this being Khimki's debut in the Euroleague. To have that debut at home by a club that aspires to be one of the best in Europe made it an important night to begin with. And then, to go against Madrid, well, that made it even bigger. Raul and Sergio played and coaches for that team, respectively, and like them, I have had a lot of friends associated with Real Madrid over the years. So that made it really special for us on a personal level, too. We knew we had to play well for 40 minutes in order to have a chance to win. But it turned out we needed 45 minutes to get the job done. It was a very intense game, a great Euroleague game to start the season, and I think the Khimki fans saw right away about the high quality of this competition. We were in the game the whole way, and in the end, we were able to achieve what we set out to do. It was a good start.
And now, from the frying pan into the fire! I think you can agree we have a difficult schedule to start off with when I tell you that, after overtime against Madrid, our reward is to go on the road this week, to OAKA in Athens, to play the champs, Panathinaikos. Anyone would say that those teams are two of the favorites to play the Final Four this year. We know that's the maximum difficulty you can have to start off the season, but we are going to Athens with ambition to play well and concentrate on our game. We can go a little less pressured to get a win, maybe, since we have our first one, but the important thing will be to play well. Sure they are Panathinaikos, and sure the game is in there place, so they are the favorites. We just have to be smart and play without pressure, and play hard enough to make things tough on them. If we have a good night, we can get to the finish with a chance to do something. Anything is possible.
POSTED BY CARLOS CABEZAS — MOSCOW, RUSSIA