The dust has finally settled on BC Kyiv's come-from-behind 77-72 triumph over Cholet Basket on Thursday that forced the EuroChallenge Quarter-Final tie to a deciding third game.
Kyiv, under the determined, watchful eye of their great coach Sasa Obradovic, trailed 56-38 midway through the third quarter in Ukraine before rising from the dead and shocking the visitors.
Having parted with several foreign players in February after the club's heartbreaking Cup of Ukraine defeat to Azovmash, Kyiv have refused to cave in and are now just 40 minutes away from achieving an improbable spot in a European Final Four.
A tired looking Obradovic spoke to Oleksiy Naumov after the game for FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Congratulations Sasa, great win! You look happy but also exhausted.
Obradovic: Yeah, like my players. Every game and every practice you leave a part of yourself on the floor. Every time you get an extra wrinkle. I couldn't imagine a life without dealing with this much pressure. I've been exposed to it all my life and now it's a habit. It's important to be able to have fun when you win games like this one.
FIBA Europe: You were down 18 points with 5:06 left in the third quarter. What did you tell your players?
Obradovic: Well, there was not much to tell. First of all not to give up, second - start playing simple offense and attack the opponents by attacking them on defense. We did well, we confused them by changing defense - that helped us a lot and gave us the result. And we also reduced their shooting percentage - I knew they couldn't keep shooting all game long the way they were in the first half, so once you start missing it's not easy to catch the rhythm again. We used this to our advantage and I can be really satisfied with my team.
FIBA Europe: When your team went on the run, a quick offense seemed to be very effective, but on many occasions your players were slowing down. What was the instruction from the bench?
Obradovic: Now, there is no point to analyze. Anyway - we found the way and we found the good rhythm. And in the end they made good decisions. Shooting from the outside with a better percentage than in the game in Cholet gave us more confidence and helped us. This was the model of the game we also have to play there and we will have a chance. We also played great on defense, despite giving up a bunch of offensive rebounds. If they have a great shooting night, they are all right but if not, they have a great rebounder (Randal Falker) who is unbelievably mobile and athletic, so they also do well.
FIBA Europe: Sasa, you like to talk about being realistic, especially in the situation your team is in (after the departure of so many players). The chance that you are going to finish the regular season first is slim, but at the same time you won't go lower than second. What can we expect from your team in the remaining five games in the Superleague?
Obradovic: Even though you have to win some games, I am always afraid of losing the rhythm. I have to figure out how I can put more guys who never played at this level in the rotation. The Saturday game [against Poltava] is not going to be easy - again, I have to figure out how to split the time and avoid any injuries.
FIBA Europe: How can you prepare your players for the Wednesday game in France and what are the chances there?
Obradovic: I never answer like 51% or 60. This is ridiculous. The game always depends on a lot of factors and the favorite can change either right before the game because of an injury or during the game depending on the flow of it. So most important is to stay healthy. It would be a very, very big success for us if we could play in the Final Four. It's not going to be easy for Cholet either. They will be under a lot of pressure. I just hope that we will not be affected by the atmosphere there and will not make the stupid mistakes we made in the first game. It could be anybody's game.
FIBA Europe: Friday is the deadline for any signings. What chance is there that you might acquire someone before the end of the day?
Obradovic: I hope high. Whatever our ambitions are, we need someone with experience. We need rotation. I don't have any names yet, but I am going home to see if there's anybody available.
FIBA Europe: You were a great player. Perhaps you could help?
Obradovic: No, no. I'm the coach, I never play.