— The season has finished for us. I would like to thank all of our fans, who have supported us. They gave us invaluable support. I would like especially thank our players. The season was very tough. There were a lot of injuries, sometimes we had to play with only seven players. Today we just didn’t have enough strength. When we were playing our own basketball, with a quick transition, moving the ball around well — everything was working. When we got off track and started playing individually then it was clear that we just weren’t on our game. We just don’t have the kind of super players for that. But also in the background were some mistakes that came out of fatigue, especially on defense, when Nizhny was scoring some wide open threes.
— Today there were problems in particular with Zenit’s “big guys”: Landry, Borovnyak. Were they more tired than the others?
—You know what it’s like to play against Parakhovsky, who demonstrates his game each time. This is a player worthy of the Euroleague. He is stronger than the other guys, and on defense we had to waste about two or three times as much energy in order to play well against him. We played hard, and this was a factor as to why there were some mistakes from Borovnyak around the rim and why Landry’s shots were off.
—Jones had more playing time than usual today. Did you want to surprise your opponent?
—No, we just had some problems in the attack and needed to add something to the game. He came out, scored 9 points, but that wasn’t enough.
— Vikhrov’s usual energy and activity were missing today. Was there an injury bothering him?
—After the injury he has had a bit of a fall. He didn’t score enough and was weak on defense. He missed a lot of practices, lost his playing rhythm. We have a young team, and it’s tough to get set for each playoff game. But this will come with time, so everything is still ahead of us, we have some young players, including Vikhrov.
— In your career as a coach you have played in five playoff series and have won only one of them. Do you notice any kind of pattern in any of this?
—I don’t think there is anything bad in this. It’s pretty clear who is in front of us and who we have been playing. In front of us is maybe the future champion of the Euroleague, the champion of the Eurocup. We have been playing with a team in the top-16 of the Eurocup. They would have had to have answered questions if we had been the ones to have gone through.
— What’s next for the team? Is Kulagin going to stay with the team? Can we expect any big transfers?
—For the time being nothing is clear. We are waiting the leadership’s decision.
—Why did your game fall apart towards the end?
—Fatigue was a background factor that caused the guys to opt for the easiest plays — go up and shoot, and not try and aggravate and stress the opponent. Each time when we were pressing on our opponents, we were able to score.
—Today only six of Zenit’s players scored. Was there the impression that some of the guys had already “finished the season” even before the game started?
— What’s nice is that I didn’t have that feeling. If the team had already given up, then it would have finished in Nizhny. There was a full house today, we felt a responsibility. There were some mistakes as a result of this and some bad decisions too.