Jasikevicius: "Winning the Copa del Rey is still a long way off"

"You have to be very strong mentally. You can start badly but you can't panic, you have to keep playing your game," he says.


The Barça basketball coach, Sarunas Jasikevicius, affirmed this Thursday that "the Copa del Rey is a 40-minute sprint", the time a game lasts, and stressed the need to "be mentally strong" to win this type of competition , which takes place at the WiZink Center in Madrid.

At the press conference prior to Barça-Unicaja in the quarterfinals, scheduled for this Friday at 9:30 p.m., the Barça coach stated that, in the Cup, "you can't look at the next game, you have to go game by game" because, basically, a bad game by any team can sentence you to elimination. In this one-match format, in which Barça would only face Real Madrid in a hypothetical final, Jasikevicius avoided awarding his team the favorite medal: "In one of the most beautiful weeks on our calendar, I understand that people I have to search for favorites, but being or not being one does not change anything ".

Although the Lithuanian coach acknowledged that, for him, "it would mean a lot to lift the first title as Barça coach," he also warned that the Cup "is a tournament where there are always surprises." "You just have to focus on the match against Unicaja and train well before playing it. Winning the title is still a long way off when there are seven such good teams that also play the Cup," explained Jasikevicius.

In this sense, he explained that the psychological factor is key to getting the matches ahead in such a compressed tournament: "You have to be very strong mentally. You can start badly but you can't panic, you have to keep playing your game." "If you want to win the Cup, you have little time to prepare the rival and make adjustments. You cannot prevent what may come to you. You have to fix everything right away," he said.

Since, if Barça reaches the final, they will have to play three games in just three days, Jasikevicius stressed the importance of having all available troops: "We are accustoming people to feel important so that everyone can play in any moment and contribute something. "

Regarding Unicaja, the Barça coach highlighted the improvements that coach Fotsis Katsikaris has made since this season he took the reins of the Malaga team: "Now they no longer have such an aggressive defense and, in addition, they are also a team that can score very easily creating open shots ". Unicaja comes to the cup duel after beating Fuenlabrada with authority in the Endesa League (68-85), although Jasikevicius stated that "one can reach the Cup very well and lose it or arrive very badly and win it." For this reason, he insisted that the most important thing "is not to lose your papers if things go wrong" .

Hanga: "We have to remember last year"

Adam Hanga, for his part, stated that the Barça team must "remember last year's defeat against Valencia", in the quarterfinals of the previous Copa del Rey, to face this season's edition with the highest possible concentration. In the press conference prior to Barça-Unicaja, also in the quarterfinals, Hanga said that the rival team also "is a dangerous team that has been doing well since the change of coach", when coach Fotsis Katsikaris took over the team's reins. Malaga at the beginning of the season.

"We are very excited to compete for the first title, but it is a competition in which we are going to have three games in three days. We go day by day, and we have to remember the first game last year," said the Hungarian player in reference to the elimination at the hands of Valencia Basket. "All teams have a chance to win the Cup. I don't know who is the favorite, but obviously being Barça we have to compete until the end," he said.

The culé player also highlighted the need to exercise well before facing important matches: "We had a pretty bad week training before playing against Efes and, in the end, we lost." The Catalans fell last Thursday against the Turkish team (86-88) in the Euroleague. "On the other hand, this week we have faced it with another mentality, very complete and doing things well. In addition, the injured have joined," he said.In spite of everything, the Barça player acknowledged that "playing without fans in the Copa del Rey is a shame". "I really like the atmosphere that there is always. All the cups I have played I have enjoyed a lot, we cannot change the current situation, lamented Hanga.

Photos from as.com
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