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22.01.2014 · 00:00

Bogdanović for

The Official Site of Euroleague published an interview with quarterback BC Partizan NIS Bogdan Bogdanović , which will be presented in its entirety: Bogdan, congratulations on the big win against CSKA last week. How much did Partizan's first Top 16 victory in three years mean to this team? "For sure it was an important win, and it meant a lot for the team spirit and team atmosphere. But once you make it through to the Top 16, you don’t search for alibis, you play to compete for both club and individual reputation. So, it made us really happy. We gave our all and believed we could win." Two months ago in the regular season, Partizan lost to CSKA in Moscow 88-46. How does a turnaround like that, losing by 42 to beating the same team, happen? "To turn it around was not easy. That loss was a big humiliation for me personally. During that game Leo Westermann got hurt, so our spirits were down and we only wanted the game to end as soon as possible. It was a difficult moment for all of us. We played CSKA in the last week of the regular season on our home floor in Belgrade and lost, too. This time, we have to admit, they were missing Kyle Hines, who is one of their more important players. But we believed. We never gave up. Also, we learned from that last regular season game against them. We would come within 5 or 6 points, before they would pull away to 10 again, and we never managed to catch up. But this time, we managed to do that. We caught our rhythm in the fourth quarter, and won." What has changed in the last nine weeks? Was there a particular turnaround moment? "It's a lot about team spirit and team atmosphere, they influence the performance quite a bit. There are moments when our confidence rises so high, there is no limit to it. In such moments, I like to say 'you start the engine'. There is a moment you get going, and everything becomes easier. Definitely, since we beat Fenerbahce in Istanbul, we have been playing well in both the Euroleague and Adriatic League. We needed to win that game, we did, and we turned our Euroleague season around." You played a huge part in last week's victory, with the third-highest individual point total in the Euroleague this season. Can you explain how it feels to take over a game like that? "The feeling is indescribable, especially after the game ends. It is not a word that I can write on a piece of paper. During the game, you are focused on the game itself, and it does not mean anything if, in the end, your team does not win. Also, I did it this time against CSKA, Kinsey led us against Fenerbahce, Joffrey Lauvergne and Dragan Milosavljevic had their big games, too. Basketball is a team sport. When one gets it going, everyone rallies behind him, and he leads us to victory. That’s how all the teams work, that’s how you play basketball. But to explain the feeling in those moments, if I would use one word, I would say that the feeling was phenomenal, but that still does not say enough about it." Now you have a streak of nine consecutive double-digit scoring games. How did you develop such confidence this season as compared to last year? "The team and coach made a lot of room for my improvement. I've been working, wanting and trying hard to reach a certain level, and I hope it will get even better and better. I am always optimistic and I believe I can always do it better. But confidence is most important. And when the entire team has that confidence, it is easier to get victories." What does it mean to you to lead the Top 16 in scoring at the age of 21? "It means a lot. However, if I start thinking about those things, it can only become a burden. I don't pay attention to individual statistics, although it is great to hear that. But this is like a new territory and a new experience for me." Partizan is playing its Top 16 home games at Kombank Arena before up to 21,000 fans. What kind of energy do they give you? "Well, the arena is a lot different. Hala Pionir is our home, it is louder, smaller, it is easier for fans to synchronize their chants. But, in Kombank Arena there are a lot more people, and we have a great connection with our fans. They know when to sing louder, and when to lift us if we are lacking energy. They even know to put pressure on the opponents. The arena is so big, with all those people filling it up, it is just phenomenal to play in such an environment." As someone born and raised in Belgrade, how does it feel to be playing for your hometown club at this elite level, especially given that connection to the fans? "For me, it is a pure pleasure to play in my hometown. I have a lot of old friends around me, and there is always talk going on with them, either about the Partizan vs. Crvena Zvezda rivalry, or them comforting me when we lose, how opponents are too good and strong, or when we win, there is euphoria among them. So, it is great to play in my hometown, but with our club, believe me, it is the same great experience whether you are from Belgrade or not." Next, you have a road game Thursday against Maccabi Electra, another team with great home support. What will be the keys to get a win in Tel Aviv? "The keys are defense, aggressiveness and energy. As far as their fans, we are used to playing in a good atmosphere and under pressure in Serbia, so we have the experience to deal with it. But Maccabi is a Final Four contender. They are playing well, at a high level. We will give our best to create an upset. We will never give up in advance. We always believe that we can win." Your team's confidence is now sky-high. How should you use that to your advantage in the push through the Top 16, and how far do you think it can get you? "Four years ago Partizan made it to the Final Four. At the start of the season, no one believed in them, but they never gave up. Big teams were coming to town, and Partizan would upset them, including Maccabi in the playoffs after them having home-court advantage. Here, we all know how it happened. Team spirit, self-confidence and sports performance all matter, and we just need to keep them all strong."