The coach of Unicaja Ibon Navarro has appeared in the press room at the Martín Carpena to analyze the first rival of the season in an official match, the Heroes Den Bosch. The duel corresponds to the semifinals of the Basketball Champions League (BCL) Qualifying Round, a transcendental match for Unicaja’s European future, which is played This Friday, September 23, at 8:30 p.m.
Navarro celebrated the return of the European champions, Alberto Díaz and Darío Brizuela, to the dynamics of the team. “On Wednesday they didn’t finish training, a bit to take care of them and because they had a progressive entry and hopefully today they will do more of the training to prepare for the match. We want them to bring us the positive energy they have, which will surely come in handy . Carefully and keeping them in cotton wool because they have been away for more than a month. You have to be smart with them and take care of them. They are happy, happy, and we are very proud of them”.
For the coach from Vitoria, “the problems we’ve had in the preseason condition more than this anticipated final so soon, because nobody really has a real and clear vision of the team. We have been practically all the preseason games playing without bases. We have seen very good and not so good things. We don’t want to deceive ourselves into believing that those not-so-good things are going to be solved with the two point guards together. But it is real that many of them are normally solved when they are there. But it doesn’t condition us so much.”
On this decisive and early competition, Navarro has pointed out that “For us it is a Super Cup, only instead of being an Endesa League Super Cup, we are going to play hopefully two games that will give us access to play in the Champions League. In the end, being in the area we are in is a consequence of not meeting the objectives we had last year, so what we have to try is to redeem ourselves from that and start again on the right foot”.
Regarding the physical state in which the team arrives, the Uncaja coach has indicated that he arrives “well, with some discomfort. Kendrick seems to be doing well with his ankle after the Betis game and the others with little things that are not very important”
Regarding the rival, Heroes Den Bosch, Navarro stressed that “they have good players that we know well. It is a team that has talent, that plays in an organized and well-worked way. It is a team that has its weapons in the midfield and knows how to exploit them, it is sure to pose problems for us, some of them different from those we have encountered in preseason. And that is why it is a challenge for us to play this game all together at home and against a team that is sure to make things difficult for us, and that obviously has less to lose than us. But we have to know how to manage this, be smart, focus on the things we have to do and do them, and not on the consequences of doing them right or wrong.”
Asked about how the players face this tie, the coach stressed that “too much stress is not going to help us. It’s an important game, yes, but all the games that Unicaja plays are important, both at home and away, in the Endesa League or wherever. We are a team that always wants to win, that we have the option of competing and always trying to win, and tomorrow is no exception. But insisting on the mental aspect of heads or tails is not good, first because the players know it, they are professionals and they know what they are coming for. They know what the situation is when they came here because we explained it to them.”
Lastly, Navarro alluded to the importance of the fans ahead of this Friday’s game: “I doubt very much that we won’t go through bad moments in the game or those we are going to play. That’s where the advantage of being able to play at home has to be an advantage. It does not have to be an excess of pressure. I would like everyone to be aware that the game is not going to be won in minute 5, it is going to be a long game. It is a team that yesterday we saw a very, very good first half, that they were able to resist. It has weapons and tools to be in the encounter. What you have to do is be solid and, when those moments come, you have to notice that we are playing at home. Being in Carpena and being with our people has to be a help”.