It is hard to imagine a much better start to 2013 than playmaker Bobby Brown and Montepaschi Siena have enjoyed together in January. Not only did Siena win all of its four Turkish Airlines Euroleague games this month, but it now leads Top 16 Group F with a perfect 5-0 record.
Brown has been everywhere, breaking the Top 16 single-game record with 41 points in one game, hitting the game-winning shot in another and generally making sure Siena stayed unbeaten. Brown finished January averaging 24 points on 51.5% two-point (17 for 33), 44% three-point (12 for 27) and 96.3% free-throw (26 of 27) shooting. He also had 4.8 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal per game. He now leads the Top 16 overall in performance index rating (24.4 average) and scoring (22.4 ppg.) while tying for second place in assists (5.2 apg.). The best part besides winning unexpectedly, Brown says in this Euroleague.net interview, is the fun he and his teammates are having as the Euroleague's best offensive team, one that is making three-pointers like few before it. "Getting up and down with these guys, scoring, getting opportunities in transition, making highlight plays... this is a great environment to play in," Brown told Euroleague.net. "Our coaching staff allows us to play and learn from our mistakes: it is just fun."
Hello, Bobby, conragtulations on the award. Game-winning shots, scoring records and Montepaschi leading its Top 16 group. How great has January been for you and Montepaschi?
"It has been great, of course. My team took one game at a time. Every game was tough for us and I am just happy to be where we are right now. As far as individual stats, I just try to go out there and help my team in any way possible — scoring, passing the ball and just doing whatever it takes to win. Also, my main goal is try to be consistent every night. My teammates have trusted me and I want to play hard to try to win every game."
Few expected Montepaschi to do so well in the Top 16 but you have proved everyone wrong. What is the key to this success so far?
"The key is that all of us have been playing together and believing on each other. Everybody knows his role in the team and we have no bad guys in here. We all want to win, everybody has the same goal and I think that's the key for us so far. As long as we stay that way, I think we can go pretty far — if we do what we have to do."
January started with a big road win against Fenerbahce Ulker and you tying the Euroleague's single-game scoring record. How did you feel that night?
"I felt great. We knew it was going to be a tough game and were motivated. I am happy that I played pretty well and we won. Like I said, I will do whatever it takes for my team to win; scoring a lot, passing the ball, whatever it takes! It was a great night for me and my teammates."
What does being part of the Euroleague's record books mean to you?
"Oh, it means a lot! Anytime you can be in anybody's record books or break any record is always a big accomplishment. When you play this game and you do it at a high level, whatever achievement you can get along the way is a bonus. Despite the scoring records and everything, all I want to do is try to win every game. I am just happy to be in this situation."
Next, you guys defeated a difficult BC Khimki team at home in a game that went down to the wire. What was the difference in that game?
"We knew we were facing a good team that came in undefeated in the Top 16 as well. The key to that was in the way we executed on defense and offense towards the end. We were down early, came back and I think that shows the type of team that we are. We came back in that game, protecting our home court. It was a team effort. We have great players, a great coach and won the game even when we knew it was going to be tough."
On the road against the champions, Olympiacos Piraeus, you hit the game-winning shot. What do you remember about that play?
"I remember Moss tipping the ball to me. I saw the clock going down and tried to get a shot up as fast as possible. I saw an open layup and took it, that was the game. What happened afterwards with the game clock and everything, I really didn't know what was going on. That shot really motivated us and kept us alive."
Did beating the reigning champions on their court send a message to the rest of the competition?
"I mean, I don't think we have sent a message. It was a key win for us, beating the defending champions of the Euroleague. Teams out there know what type of style we play. I am sure they all prepared it, well aware of who we are. But that game definitely gave us a boost."
Montepaschi finished a perfect January winning at home against Besiktas. Only two teams are unbeaten through five games: did you guys expect to be one of them?
"We didn't expect it. We know the kind of team that we are and our coach keeps us prepared for every game. Whatever happens on the court, we try to win. Of course, being 5-0, we will take it, but nobody expected to be in this situation right now. We just have to compete and try to win as many games as possible."
Montepaschi leads the league in scoring and three-pointers. How much fun is it for you to play for this team?
"It's a lot of fun! Getting up and down with these guys, scoring, getting opportunities in transition, making highlight plays... this is a great environment to play in. Our coaching staff allows us to play and learn from our mistakes: it is just fun — with the shooters we have spreading the court. We have Tomas Ress out right now, who is one of our key guys. We definitely want him back but some other guys have stepped up. It makes the game a lot easier."
Montepaschi is in position to make the Euroleague playoffs again. Are the team’s goals getting bigger as the season goes along and you have more success?
"Yes, our goals are getting bigger and bigger. We want to go to the Final Four and hopefully win it, but need to take one game at the time. We have nine more games left in the Top 16 and want to do our best and win them all, play hard until the end. Anything can happen right now but we want to play at the highest level to achieve our goals."