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Eurocup: “It’s the most stressful time of the year,” admits Tuomas Iisalo after the victory against London

You are one match away from qualifying for a European Cup final.

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Eurocup: “It’s the most stressful time of the year,” admits Tuomas Iisalo after the victory against London

You are one match away from qualifying for a European Cup final...Yes it's true but you're starting to know me now, I'm paranoid more than anything else at the moment. Some of us have been lucky enough to already be in this situation. With this victory we have already started to bring down the stress level a little bit in the locker room and now we will just try to recover as best we can. We know that this series will become even tougher physically with the trip to London this Friday, so we are already trying to find the points to analyze on video. It's the most stressful time of the year but I love that time when your brain is overwhelmed with information, 24/7. It's also times like these that you need to finding the best fits so this is really the most interesting time.

What happened at halftime, how did you switch to find your defense after a first half where you conceded 49 points? I wouldn't say that we found it again, I would say that We finally started to get active on defense. We were catastrophic in the first half. We had a very specific idea of ​​what London was going to offer, but they managed to do it exactly as they imagined it for almost the entire first act. For us the biggest point was not being at the video session tomorrow (Wednesday) looking at what we could have done more because we weren't at our best. It's the worst feeling you can have after a match. I've been in this situation before as a player and as a coach, where you realize on video what could have happened the day before and you really don't want to find yourself in that situation.

A word about TJ Shorts who has really had great performances since the start of 2024… (23 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists Tuesday night) He is truly a unique person and player. I've already said it several times but he gives so much confidence to this team, not just to the players but to us coaches as well. He really handles everything in an incredible way. He controls the game, the rhythm and always makes the right choices and at the same time he manages to lead the team. It's his second year with me but he has progressed enormously in that area as well and it's also because he was allowed to make mistakes. It comes from his preparation but not only that. He comes from a great family and he has something to prove to everyone. Nothing has been given to him in life so he wants to prove every night that he is up to it.

You're on a streak of 14 wins in a row, is that more of a confidence boost or extra pressure? I think the worst thing that can happen to a group is a streak of defeats. Because the players lose their confidence, in their game, in their teammates, in the staff… but the other situation which is complicated to manage is when you win a lot of matches in a row. By playing with this confidence accumulated from victories, we can be surprised as was the case in the first period. If you come across a well-prepared opponent everything can go quickly. What we often repeat and try to find out is whether it is possible for us to learn lessons even in victories. It's human nature to relax when you win so many games in a row but I think we (the coaching staff) are doing a good job of that. But the players understood it for themselves too. They take each game one at a time and I don't think any of them have talked about winning streaks, and honestly I don't think they care. This is important for you journalists and fans but it doesn't change anything in our preparation or our approach.

Regarding Michael Kessens who missed the match tonight...He is not suffering from a very serious injury. We reassess his situation every day so it is not impossible that he will be back in one of these two matches (the return against London on Friday, or the reception at Nanterre on Sunday). He brings so much on the pitch but also off the stats, as a leader. He's someone who really connects with everyone, whether it's the young French people on the team or the more experienced ones he's known for longer. It is really very important to us. You could see that his absence gave the team doubts, which is why we hope to get him back quickly.

And about Mikael Jantunen's performance this evening? Mika is really a very positive addition to our squad this season. He really does a great job on both ends of the floor for us. He can cover two positions and that’s very important too. The thing that makes me a little less happy is that now I'm only the second best Finnish shooter in the team (laughs). It's a bit of a personal disappointment but I'll work on it.

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