Benas Matkevičius: “We can’t be too relaxed coming into these games”

2021-02-19 22:02
Photo by: Ž. Vingelis

Men’s basketball team had one of the last trainings before the first qualifying match of the European Basketball Championship against the Czech national team. Benas Matkevičius, summarized the training process, highlighted the importance of psychology and singled out the strengths of the first competitors.

Team seems to be better, but we are still short on time, we cannot work much on what is in the players head. I think we all understand the difference between knowing and feeling – you know there is an important game, but you also have to feel that it is an important game and you have to find that balance between those two things.

You have to demand of yourself, feel the inner pressure, but in all of that, the mind must be in the right place so that you understand what is important here. You should not only play emotionally, but also understand the game. It’s all a little overwhelming, there can’t be too much relaxation, there can’t be too much tension, there has to be a golden mean and that’s what we’re getting close to.

What do you focus on the most?

Both, defense and offence, are important, of course a lot in defense depends on the desire and the energy we have. Sometimes we even need to slow down the players, but again the defense needs to be played with the understanding, where to stand, how much to help, where help, where not to help. And in the offence we simply have to remember the combinations, everyone finds their places step by step, those who have been with the national team already know, those who have not been here before, need to get used to it, especially PGs, but we can see that players learn the plays faster than before, so I think it is a great sign here.

How do you feel about first opponent?

The Czech Republic is quite a different opponent than we saw in the first game, because they are missing P. Aauda who did us quite a bit of damage in the first match, there is no O. Balvin, who was in the last window, but now suffered an minor injury, but that’s not the point. They have experienced players such as J. Bohacik, V. Hruban, and M. Peter, who makes a big impact in the them. It will be very important to analyze our opponent, because there are certain situations where they can catch us.

We will have to communicate on defense a lot, we will have to read all the situations and identify 3-point shooters, ball handlers, know where to help and where not to help. We will have video analysis, that will make it even clearer, but, I think that team is very experienced, has a good chemistry, brought some younger players to this window and key players know how to do the job well, so we have to be prepared for the game even better.