Real Madrid took control of their first game of the Euroleague quarter-finals against Olympiacos on Tuesday night, and Sergio Rodriguez admits beating last year’s champions will feel special as they aim for their third trip to the Final Four in four years.
The Euroleague’s overall leader in assists this season himself has been enjoying the best spell of basketball in his career. And Rodriguez would love to cap it off with a Euroleague title. The Spanish international missed out last year in London when Real Madrid were beaten by their quarter-final opponents in the final, something the guard would love to gain some revenge over.
“Both teams are slightly different,” Rodriguez said. “They changed more players than we did. It was a painful experience; it always hurts to lose a final, especially in the Euroleague. It also helped us to learn. We are more experienced now and that loss allowed us to be more mature this season.”
Rodriguez added: “We would be looking forward to playing against any opponent; we would be equally excited and motivated. There are great series this season and the best teams and players in Europe are facing each other. The fact that we play against Olympiacos is special because of last season’s defeat.”
And the Liga Endesa frontrunners got off to the perfect start by beating the Greeks 88-71 in the first game of a possible five. Rodriguez got 12 points and 4 assists on the night, as he proved to be one of the main contributors to their success. Real Madrid’s win came at a price though as they will have to go the rest of the season without another point guard as Dontaye Draper is sidelined with a broken arm.
Still the hunger and quest for Euroleague success is pumping through Rodriguez’s veins and says that the team is still focused on the prize.
“This trophy means the most to any European player,” Rogriguez admits. “The Euroleague has the best teams and, obviously, winning it is one of our goals. We have to go step by step, be focused and use the experience we have from previous seasons. We have to be very focused, because any team can beat you.”