Credit: BNS
Credit BNS

Zalgiris Kaunas are going into their first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game, facing LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne in France.

Martin Schiller, who made his coaching debut in the EuroLeague last season, is going into his second year with more knowledge and confidence.

"The main difference is the fact that I've done this before. So the main difference is that we traveled within the EuroLeague schedule, played in other gyms, know the players on the opposing side. It was more of a blank sheet for me last season."

The Austrian specialist talked about ASVEL, their strengths, style of play, and what Zalgiris needs to do to counter it.

"ASVEL, traditionally, is a very athletic team. They get out and run on the offensive end. Transition defense will be an important part of the game.

They are also extremely long and can crash the glass, so controlling the defensive boards will be important. Obviously, it comes down to individual matchups. They've got interesting players, and we're looking forward to it."

"The make-up of the group is kind of similar. But they have extreme length at the five. They got Youssoupha Fall for Moustapha Fall. It's a different player, they have athleticism at the perimeter. Obviously, there are personnel changes, but stylistically they are similar," Schiller said.

Zalgiris have already played three games at the domestic league this season, while the French LNB Pro A has not started yet. Schiller hopes it will be an advantage.

I hope so. We've played three games in a real setting, and they have not. I hope it can be a little bit of an advantage.

The coach also talked about the things Zalgiris still needs to improve on and whether a lack of athleticism will be a factor for the Lithuanian champions.

"To me, it's a few things. You cannot pinpoint the offense or the defense. It's specific things on both ends of the basketball that we want to improve.

It's all process. I'm happy with the process we made in the last game against Lietkabelis. It's a process, and we go from game to game."

"At the five spot, we are pretty balanced. We have size and athleticism. There are spots on the floor where they have more athleticism than ours, just like last year. We have to play around them and find ways to still execute and play well."

Lastly, Schiller discussed Emmanuel Mudiay's transition to European culture and basketball.

"He's adjusted very well on the group level, social level, cultural level. He's made a lot of progress on that end. On the other end, he's got a lot of work ahead of him on the floor, no doubts about that. That's also something we knew going into it, and it's a process."

Zalgiris prospect Marek Blazevic touched on the atmosphere on the team and its goal to bring home the first EuroLeague victory of the season.

"The atmosphere on the team is excellent," Blazevic said. "We improve it every day because there are a lot of new guys on the team. We need to take care of them and help them. There are more experienced guys like Janis Strelnieks, who is experienced and blended in really quickly.

"The atmosphere is maybe even better than last year, and we're traveling to take our first victory. It will be the EuroLeague debut for some players. Some players will want to prove something. There will be pressure in the first game, but we hope to handle it."

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