Summer School: Jonas
Jerebko's big game pushed Sweden to top spot in Euro group play
I got back to Sweden just two days ago from Portugal, where I spent five days with my family. I relaxed and had a good time, doing nothing. Just lay on the beach and eat good food with mom, dad and my sister.
That was my vacation after playing for my Swedish national team in qualifying for the European Championship. It was fun. We were No. 1 in the group. We lost one game, to Romania. I thought we should have won – I thought we played terrible in that game. We should have beaten them by 20, but stuff happens.
We had the same record, 3-1, as both Romania and Azerbaijan, but we finished first in the division on point differential.
We played two games at home and two away – at Romania and Azerbaijan. It’s different, very different, playing in the other team’s country. The arenas were kind of small, old. Romania is a very different country. Everything was different. You have to adjust to the food, but it’s stuff you learn from. The crowds were pretty loud, rooting for their home country. It was fun playing there.
We couldn’t make a shot against Romania. They played a zone – they had a 7-5 guy in there – and we tried to take it to the basket and didn’t get any calls. Then we tried shooting and didn’t make anything. We were down 15 in the third quarter and came back and tied it up, then they scored something like four 3s and went up by 12. It was one of those nights for us.
We get to play the same teams again next summer, but next year we’ll get Romania and Azerbaijan at home in Sweden. The last game we played this summer, the one against Azerbaijan, was a big game. That was going to make it a good summer for us or a bad summer. They had won every game, so they came in undefeated. They beat Romania by 15 at Romania.
We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we played a good game and won. I think I scored 35 points in that game and it felt like I could have had 50. We just had fun out there. I was making shots and we were just playing well.
None of those teams can beat us, I feel, if we play like we can. Azerbaijan had a 7-6 center, they had an American player, some decent point guards, a shooting guard who had experience in Turkey. They were pretty good, but we were playing too well in that game.
It was a good experience for me. I was the main guy. I got to touch the ball on offense a lot. The ball came through me I would say on 90 percent of the possessions. I played everything – everything from one to five. I handled the ball, pick and roll, post up, isolation – it was everything, a great experience.
It was good for my confidence – show myself that I can score if I want to. Now I know I can do it. I know they can’t leave me open. I know I can score the ball. I know it’s a different level, but it’s still basketball. It’s not easy to go out and score 20 at whatever level you play at. It wasn’t the NBA, but the level was better than you would think.
I feel pretty good now. I’ll work for the next month with Arnie Kander and then I’ll be ready for training camp. Whatever coach wants me to do or needs me to do, I’ll do it. I’ll just go out there with energy and play my game and everything will fall into place.