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The MVP diary from Ulm - Big John Bryant:

The MVP diary from Ulm - Big John Bryant: "Quarterfinals versus Bilbao? Gonna be physical in the...

This time the MVP talks about the Eurocup-Quarterfinals against Bilbao, all the positives of new teammate Omar Samhan and focusing on securing second place in the Beko BBL for the playoffs.

Man, we’ve been getting a lot of snow pouring down on us. It’s not really that fun going out right now – really cold and snowy. And there’s no Christmas market for some hot glühwein or hot punch to warm you up. But as we heard the weather is supposed to get a lot warmer in the near future.

Since the last time, there was the tough loss at home against Unics Kazan in the Eurocup. We had them close. I didn’t really have a great game. The season was kind of catching up to me. I was a little tired. I really wasn’t into it. But they’re a good team. We had them pretty much the whole game but they pulled it out in the end. With the situation at the end, the refs have a tough job. They’re trying to do their best. It was a foul but it’s a judgment call on his part. It sucks that it happened with no seconds on the clock. It was definitely a heartbreaker and everybody was shocked. But you have to live with it and get over it and move on. Those are the kind of games that we gotta win – in the fourth quarter, in crunch time.

We took it as a lesson and now look forward to Bilbao. I’ve been hearing some stories about their team, they’re a great team. It’s probably going to be a physical game in the low post. We’re just looking forward to having the game at our place and try to get a win by as many points as possible. We’re also excited about going to Bilbao. We’ve been to Russia and Serbia and Croatia. But let’s hope there’s some sun in Bilbao and some warmer weather.

We also have a new big man in Omar Samhan. He’s a comedian. He’s a funny dude and there’s never a dull moment with him. It’s definitely not going to hurt the team morale. It’s only going to help it. He’s a very vocal person and he’s telling everybody in practice to D up. He’s a very emotional guy so personality-wise I think it’s going to be great for us. Definitely as a player, he’s very similar to me – shoot jumpshots, shoot threes. He’s a big guy, so you can pound it in the post with him. It’s a great situation for both of us and the team because we’re just going to battle in practice every day. That’s been one of the things I’ve needed in practice is someone to push me. Having him come in, coming off an injury and him trying to get back out into the European market and get his stock back up, it’s definitely going to be nothing but positive for us. As far as games go, he already told me he’s not worried about scoring points. He just wants to come in and rebound and make the other center tired. He’s got a great mindset so it’s going to be nothing but positive for us.

Looking at the standing, there will be a big fight for second place in the final 12-13 games or so. And it will come all the way down to the end. It’s a tough schedule. We’re in the Eurocup and if we reach the next round, it’s going to be even tougher. Coach sat us down after the Kazan loss and really told us the Beko BBL is our main focus. All our focus and energy should be going to the national games because that’s our league and our bread and butter. The Eurocup is something that we’ll play hard for, but the Beko BBL is definitely first on our list. And second place is a definite advantage when it comes to the playoffs. The rest of the way we have a lot more home games than road games, so that will be an advantage for us. I think we just have to play hard and use all the losses and mistakes we have made in the past and use them to close out games in the future. If we just play as we should play, I think we have a great chance to snag that second spot.

Well, with that, talk in two weeks. Best, John Bryant
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