It’s been a season to remember for Valencia Basket Club forward Justin Doellman. After some ups and downs for the club early on, Valencia caught fire and marched through the elimination rounds to face mighty Unics Kazan in the Eurocup Finals. Then with its All-Eurocup First Team forward leading the charge, Valencia dispatched Unics to sweep the series and conquer the club’s third Eurocup crown, which was just one of many marks set by Valencia on Wednesday in Kazan.
Doellman’s fingerprints are all over Valencia’s triumph after a brilliant two games. He totaled 54 points in the title series and not surprisingly was rewarded as the Eurocup Finals MVP. Still high on the euphoria of winning a continental title, Doellman took a break to reflect on his and Valencia’s season with Javier Gancedo of Eurocupbasketball.com. Doellman stressed how important the team aspect has been to Valencia’s success. “We have a great group of guys, everybody gets along. There are no bad guys in the locker room. It is tremendous, I could not do it without them, and to have them on my side is great,” he said. Despite the ongoing celebrations, Doellman made it clear that he was out to finish the season with even more silverware: “Definitely it is a highlight for both my career and for the club. But if can get an ACB championship as well, that would be tremendous.”
Congratulations on winning the Eurocup title. How does it feel that all this hard work finally paid off?
“It is a great feeling. Just to be a champion tonight is amazing. My teammates did a great job tonight, they slowed Goudelock down, which is the key to their team. We were able to slow him down, and score.”
Nobody was able to beat Unics Kazan before you managed to do it. Was the winning mentality one of the keys to the series, and to the elimination rounds, actually?
“We played very well in Valencia. And coming here we had a 13-point lead, so we were comfortable with that. But we knew they would try to start early, but we stopped their runs and were able to pull away.”
You made it to the All-Eurocup First Team for the second consecutive season and you won the MVP of the Eurocup Finals. Is this the best moment of your career?
“It is, I think so. To have a championship like this is tremendous. I am very honored to be in this position, and it’s definitely the best part of my career.”
Valencia had a slow start, but won every do-or-die game it had. What happened in the beginning of the season that you did not click right away?
“Every season has ups and downs. Half of our team was new this year. So you just slowly get better and learn how to play with each other. And that's what happened, and we are in a good rhythm right now.”
Was the game against Khimki Moscow Region the toughest point of the season?
“It was a big hurdle. But we were able to beat them by 16 points at our house, and we built on that. To get past them we knew we could win the championship.”
The most amazing win was probably Game 2 of the semifinals against Nizhny Novgorod. You ended up winning on the road by 25 points. Did you think at that moment you could actually be Eurocup champions?
“Yes, definitely. We thought that all year. We had couple of losses along the way, but we continued to move forward. Right now we are in the best position possible, we are on top.”
People say this was the best Eurocup ever. This is your second Eurocup season. How do you compare it, with the addition of Euroleague teams, did it make it really stronger?
“It was definitely stronger, it was much longer as well, with different travel schedules and things like that. Any time you have Euroleague teams come down to the Eurocup, it makes the Eurocup stronger. But we were very happy with the situation that unfolded.”
Valencia’s winning team in 2010 was together all the time, went out together and everything. How close is this Valencia team this season?
“It is very similar. We have a great group of guys, everybody gets along. There are no bad guys in the locker room. It is tremendous, I could not do it without them, and to have them on my side is great.”
You went from Entente Orleans to Alicante and Manresa, all the way up to Valencia. Do you think that with this Eurocup Finals MVP all the hard work you did is finally paying off, and taking you to the next level?
“It definitely is. To be in Valencia is great. Great for me and my family. They treat us very well there. We have a great owner, great management throughout the club, and I am very happy there.”
You did not just win the Eurocup, you took Valencia to the Euroleague. How honored are you to take your club to the biggest league in European basketball?
“It is great. This is a great organization, and we just keep climbing the ladder. Next year we are in the Euroleague. That is great and hopefully we can prove ourselves there.”
Finally, the season is not over, you still have the Spanish League, but winning the Eurocup title could be one of the highlights not only for your career, but for the history of the club?
“Definitely it is a highlight for both my career and for the club. But if can get an ACB championship as well, that would be tremendous.”