Hello, Eurocup fans! This is once again Jonathan Tabu of CAI Zaragoza – and I’m in a very good mood! We just beat Telekom Baskets Bonn for our third consecutive win and we are in a good position to advance to the next round. Defense was the key; we allowed 108 points in Bonn, but just 60 in Zaragoza. I think that our identity, if we want to go far in the competition, has to be strong defense. When you look at the game in Bonn, we didn't play good defense, especially in the last minutes. If you think about it, they had a 30-5 run. We started off pretty slow this week, but then picked up our defense and in the end, we managed to keep them under 70 points, which is very good for us.
The fact is, we trailed by 10 at the end of the first quarter. We knew that we had to pick it up on defense. Obviously, they felt that they had a lot to win and nothing to lose. We were kind of surprised to see how they started the game. At the end of the first quarter, we spoke about it and managed to come back and focus. We knew we were better than that team, especially at home, but had to show it on the court. We rebounded well at both ends and finished with 46 boards. We controlled the boards and that is critical against such an athletic team like Bonn, with players like Tony Gaffney. We had to secure that part of the game – and that is what we did.
We have played good defense in the Eurocup lately; we only allowed 50 points against Alba Berlin. Of course, we knew that Alba is a tough team, especially when you look at their roster and tradition. We knew that if we wanted to get this win, we had to keep them under the 70-point mark. That's what we did – and I had a good game, which made the win even better. Obviously, winning is all that matters. Still, I was a little bit disappointed after the game against Alba because I didn't play like I wanted to play. Of course, when your team wins and you play well, it is a great feeling.
It was really special for me to play against Belfius Mons-Hainaut in Belgium. I played there when I was young and I had that coach (ed. note: Yves Defraigne) back then. Playing in that gym, where I practice during the summer, in front of family and friends, was truly special. When you have all those ingredients in a game, you wanna play well and win it no matter what. That's what I tried to do – and we did it. It was a great win and a great day for me, as I had the chance to see my family after the game.
These three wins got us closer to the next round. We need to beat Virtus Rome on the road next week. I think that the really important game was the one against Bonn, as it gave us the chance to be really close to advancing... but that's in the past already and the next game is always the most important one. If we can win in Rome and qualify before the last game against Gravelines, with a chance to finish first, it would be great. For now, we have to be focused to win as many games as possible – and that is what we have done lately.
I am shooting really well in both the Spanish League and the Eurocup lately, which is good, of course. I have started to fit better in the team and its systems. In the beginning, I was trying to find my way, my position in the team. It was harder for me to play in the ACB, as it is a new competition for me. I am trying to get back to what I know I can do. I hope to keep it up until the end of the season and help the team reach its goals!
Viktor Sanikidze played really well against Bonn and I am very happy for him. Off the court, he is a really great guy and always ready to have fun! Having a guy like that off the court is really good. On the court, he brings a lot of energy, gets a lot of rebounds and allows us to play faster. He loves to run and play a high-tempo game, which I love, too. It is pleasure to play with a guy like that.
Last but not least, I want to thank our great CAI Zaragoza fans for their support, especially in the last couple of games. It is really good; this team keeps growing year after year. Four years ago, we were in the Spanish second division and now we are playing in the Eurocup. It shows that the club really wants to keep getting better and has the ambition to go higher. It is very interesting to be in such an ambitious organization. It is a city of basketball; we have over 8,000 fans in the stand of every Spanish League or Eurocup game. It is really nice to be here!
Our fans love basketball. They really do! And if they keep growing, we will even have more fans in the future! We have to keep winning on the court and we will have more aficionados. The next step for this club is getting to the Eurocup Last 32. We are close to it – and it was one of our goals at the beginning of the season, this and making it to the Copa del Rey. We are doing pretty well and reaching the Last 32 would be good for the city, the club, the fans... for everybody!