Hello again from St. Petersburg, Russia! I hope everybody had a good holiday season filled with a little more family and a little less basketball. I sure did. One of the great things about our team is we were given a week off during Christmas time, so me and the family headed off to warmer climates in the United Arab Emirates. I needed a little vitamin D since I hadn't seen the sun in about month. Most of the other guys simply went home, but between jet lag and 3 kids traveling is the worst thing I could think of, we decided to go somewhere closer. I have to say it was a great choice. I think Dubai should be a bucket list destination for everybody. We did all the "touristy" things like go to the top of Burj Khalifa and eat everything we ever wanted at the Dubai Mall and check out all the cool things at the Dubai Aquarium. After that, we just laid back on the beach where it was 28 Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) and soaked up the rays. It was an awesome six days. Great and happy people there too. But who wouldn't be happy if you lived in Dubai?
Anyway, this season so far has been pretty good. Just like every season, it's had its ups and downs, but overall it’s been a good one. We are right up there at the top of our VTB standings and we finished the first round of the EuroCup in first place in, what I think, what was the most-talented group. The "downs" of our ups and downs so far have simply been injuries and feeling comfortable in our new location. The whole month of November we were without Jannis Timma and Sergei Karasev, who are arguably two of our best players. But me and the other guys tried our hardest to take care of business until they returned. Once they did return, they helped us tremendously. Sergei had a killer game against Khimki at home with 35 points to help us upset one of the big Moscow boys. That really helped since we let Loko and Unics upset us on our home court. It's been a little difficult since we can't ever practice on our home court, but we are finally getting the hang of the new atmosphere and rims and I think from here on out we will just get better. Jannis Timma has also been playing great. He's our guy who can do a little of everything as of late. From shooting on the outside to getting rebounds on the inside, he's been able to do it all. Hopefully we can continue to progress this season finish on a good note.
This upcoming week we play Amar’e Stoudemire and Hapoel Jerusalem at home. It should be a fun game since they are possibly one of the most-athletic teams not just in the EuroCup, but in all of Europe. Almost all their foreign players are EuroLeague caliber, so this will be a difficult game. You'll probably hear that a lot, but every game is going to be difficult. That’s what makes the [Top 16] way more exciting. Should be a fun January and February grind. Currently in the VTB we are playing the new team Perm. They are last in the standings, but have had a lot of close games against a lot of great teams. They lost in overtime against Unics and almost upset Avtordor as well. They've been together for a lot of years in the second division, so they all play very well together and have great chemistry. Hopefully it’s not their night yet and we can go home with a W. I hear their fans are some of the best in Russia, even though their arena is an old soviet era hockey arena that's like 7 degrees Celsius all season long, everybody in that city shows up to support their teams. Should be interesting.
Welp, I think that’s it for me. I'm off to put on three layers of clothes. Stay warm out there folks. Until next time!
With Love From Russia,
Source: Ryan's official blog on eurocupbasketball.com