Evgeny Baburin:
Nizhny Marches To The Beat Of Its Own Drum

Nizhny Novgorod took down another contender at home on Sunday, adding UNICS to a list that includes CSKA, Khimki and Lokomotiv-Kuban. Nizhny guard Evgeny Baburin spoke with VTB-League.com after the win about his team's success, coach Bagatskis's game plan, the approaching playoffs and league mascot Buba the Leopard.

- I don't feel anything special after the game with UNICS, - noted Baburin. - We won and that's the most important thing. I'm just as happy as I am after other wins. Not much went right early on. Our opponent pulled ahead and the fans probably thought it would be a blowout. But we managed to recover and play tough. We started fighting for every ball and got some things to go our way...

- Was UNICS's 17-point advantage in the first half due to its excellent play or because Nizhny couldn't find its rhythm?
- You've got to give credit to our opponent. Kazan did a good job of breaking down our offense and played smart on defense. We didn't hit our shots, which is why we only scored 28 points in the first 20 minutes. UNICS scored 42, which is about average for Kazan. We might have not been quite prepared for such aggressive defense. At times, we relied on our shooting and couldn't get them to fall.

- What did Ainars Bagatskis talk about at halftime?
- He didn't say anything special. He asked us to do what we usually do: play hard without looking at the score. After halftime, we started hitting shots and managed to score more than 90 with the help of overtime. Nizhny always marches to the beat of its own drum.

- What were you thinking when Quino Colom went to the free-throw line at the end of regulation?
- We'd already run into that situation in the game vs. CSKA. Of course, it wasn't pleasant. The sum of what happened resulted in an extra five minutes, but we might have won earlier and gone home.

- All four top Russian clubs lost in Nizhny Novgorod. What's the key to beating an elite team?
- We have very good fans and we can't play bad in front of them. Even if we don't play well in the first half, like today, during the second we try to save face in front of them and ourselves. We always fight to the end and the fans show their appreciation after games.

As for beating elite teams, maybe it's something to do with them? Maybe they don't get up for the game, for example. They think they can come out and get an easy win. But in the end, every year an elite club comes to Nizhny and leaves with nothing.

- No one will want to face Nizhny Novgorod in the playoffs after this...
- We'll see. We still need to make the playoffs.

- Does your coach do anything special to prepare you for games against top competition?
- No. We always prepare the same. Nothing special. If you watch, you'll see that we can beat a top team, then turn around and lose to a team below us in the standings. I don't why that is. That must just be the type of team we are.

- The VTB United League's mascot--Buba the Leopard--is named in your honor and lives in the Far East. What are the chances that you meet?
- We aren't that likely to meet in life. He lives in a wildlife park, after all. But my wife follows the leopards on Facebook and recently asked them to show her Buba and they sent her some video from the park. It was interesting.