By Jeff Taylor
|Victor Claver is the team captain of Power Electronics Valencia and was averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds per game in the Euroleague|
It's never easy sitting on the bench and watching your teammates go into battle, especially when you're the captain.
But such is the case for Power Electronics forward Victor Claver, who is recovering from a fractured metatarsal that interrupted what had been a terrific season for the Spain international.
Claver was in Madrid on Tuesday and Thursday with his team.
Their performance in Game 2 of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague quarter-final against Real Madrid, an 81-75 triumph, brought a smile to face.
"I am very proud and happy to be part of this group," he said to Basketball World News after the win.
"It is frustrating not to be able to help the team in these important games, but I know I have contributed and helped in other games.
"Now all I can do is to support them from the back of the bench and applaud them and be there for them."
The fact that Valencia have been able to stay in contention for a Final Four spot, and climb to third in the ACB standings, without Claver is a testament to the players, and boss Svetislav Pesic.
The mentor in the FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate program, Pesic is enjoying one of finest hours as a coach.
He took over a Valencia team that had been struggling in the ACB and the Euroleague and turned them into a force.
"Pesic brings experience and wisdom," Claver said.
"He has been in basketball a long time and he knows how to lead a club on the court.
"He transmits that very well. He gives us confidence.
"We know that if we do what he says, we will win."
To be a player for Pesic, though, means there is a lot of hard work.
"He is very demanding on the court," Claver said.
"He wants things done well.
"In training, he dedicates a lot of time to detail so that in games, we do it.
"He knows that the small details are what win you games."
Valencia won the Eurocup last year to earn a place in the Euroleague.
Claver is hoping and praying that he will be back soon.
"The estimated time of recovery was two months and a little bit more," he said.
"I have been out a month already and I can now put my foot down.
"I hope in a month's time, I can be training and be back in the team."
Claver is keeping his fingers crossed that Valencia can keep the pressure on and make it to the Final Four but there a long way to go.
"If we win and my foot responds well, I hope I will play in the Final Four," he said. "I would be gutted if I couldn't play. I just hope to be well and play."
Madrid have had a crisis this season with the unexpected resignation of coach Ettore Messina.
The players have played their hearts out but as the first two games showed in the quarter-final tie, it's a series that could go down to the wire.
The next two games are in Valencia.
"The key to beating Real Madrid is to control the rhythm of the game," Claver said.
"In Game 1, we did not do that and we were massacred on rebounds.
"In Game 2, we did better and that is how we have to keep playing."
One can't help but think of Spain's national team when seeing Claver.
He has been with the team the last two summers and is expected to be in the squad for many years, barring injury.
"I would love to play in the EuroBasket," he said.
"I have played two years with the national team and trained with them a few others so it would be the maximum.
"My priority right now is to get better in order to return to play soon.
"I have spoken to (Spain coach) Sergio Scariolo and he wanted to know about my injury."