Alexander Shcherbenev: «I am always ready for an important throw»

The main point guard of Lokomotiv-Kuban shared his impressions of the victory over UNICS (103:70) and expectations from the match with Pari NN.
How did it happen that the record-breaking major victory for Loko this season was a win against UNICS, which had previously suffered only two defeats?
– The victory over Zenit gave us strength and confidence. Of course, we did not plan in advance to win so big against such an opponent as UNICS. We set ourselves up to play hard, and when we felt that the game was going on, we began to push to the maximum in order to win as confidently as possible and believe in ourselves and our strength even more.
Your direct opponent on the court was often one of the leaders of UNICS – Daryl Macon. And as a result, in the match with Loko, he turned out to be very far from the usual performance, scoring only 5 points per match. Did the coaches sort out Macon's game with you on purpose?
- Yes. Just not with me alone, but with the whole team. We tuned in to Macon as one of the best first numbers in the league–like Thomas Ertel, for example. We doubled on it, played tight. As you can see, the plan worked – Macon played one of the worst matches of the season. Due to this, we managed to knock not only him out of the rhythm, but also the entire opposing team.
In the first part of the season, Loko often gave out failed segments during the matches, which is why the team suffered many defeats. But in the second round of the regular season, you all look much more concentrated and fresh. What's the secret?
– We were told what our plans are for the season, so we have to try (laughs). But seriously, this is really our Achilles' heel. We especially liked to lose 10 points in the third quarter – it hurt us a lot, especially in games with top opponents. But we are not standing still, we are working, we understand our weaknesses and try to fix them, which we have shown in the last two games.
In the match with UNICS, you didn't miss at all because of the three-point arc. I scored three out of three, moreover, all the hits fell on, one might say, the key moments of the match: first – in the last seconds of the first quarter, then – when UNICS tried to organize a chase. How difficult was it from a psychological point of view to take on such responsibility?
– Yes, it's not particularly difficult. I always quit, regardless of whether I'm flying that day or not. But, of course, it's nice that I got in and helped the team at the right moments. I have such a role that I have to take responsibility and not be afraid of it. That's what I'm doing. My coach and I are being set up for this, and the team supports me.
Your fiancee Camilla and her friends were sitting on the podium behind the Loko bench at the match with UNICS. Did you hear their support?
– Of course! Starting from about the third quarter, we heard them all the time – when the UNICS lag started to get bigger and the Kazan fans got discouraged. It's very nice that the girls came and supported us. Thank them!
The next opponent of Lokomotiv-Kuban is Pari Nizhny Novgorod, a very "coaching" team. What should you be especially afraid of in a match with them? And how can they be defeated?
– They are very well played. Zoran Lukic has been leading this team for a long time, and many of their basketball players have been playing together for more than three years. Nizhny has a great mutual understanding, they play in a good rhythm. I think it will be a very interesting game – we lost the first two matches very unpleasantly to them, it's time to return the favor. And to prove that we didn't just climb a line above them. That the victories over such rivals as Zenit and UNICS were not accidental for us. We will try to find stability at our current level.
Seven players from Loko were called up to the Russian national team at once. How motivated are you personally by the fact that on Tuesday you have to play against a team coached by the same specialist as the national team – Zoran Lukic?
– Of course, it's nice that so many guys from Loko got into the national team. I hope that everyone will prove themselves and will be among the 12 people who, after the training camp in Novogorsk, will go to the friendly matches of the national team in Belgrade. But I tune in to every match regardless of whether the opponent has a national team coach or not. I think the rest of our guys are doing exactly the same. Because every victory is important for us, especially at this stage.
How many people do you think will come to the Basket Hall for the match against Paris NN after such victories as Loko won over Zenit and UNICS?
– Of course, I want as much as possible. With full home stands, it's much easier to play. So come on February 7 – we will try to please you with our game and get another victory!
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