Jogela: "Practicing with Zalgiris has helped me a lot"

KEDAINIAI – It didn’t take long for Tauras Jogela to find his groove in Nevezis, as the 20-year-old forward from Kaunas snatched the February MVP award after arriving to Kedainiai only a month ago.

 

The talented player, who has been regarded as one of the top Lithuanian prospects over the years, started the season with Zalgiris Kaunas, but was loaned to Nevezis at the start of February.

Over the three-game stretch during the month, Jogela averaged 19.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists and led the Kedainiai team past Valmiera in BBL Eight-Finals.

BBL.net caught up with the player to talk about how he’s progressing as a player, his move to Nevezis and how the monthly MVP caught him by surprise.

Tauras, congratulations on becoming the BBL MVP for the month of February. You moved to Kedainiai from Zalgiris Kaunas merely a month ago, would it be fair to say this comes as a bit of a surprise to you?

Thank you. It was definitely unexpected for me, personally. I didn’t expect to be acknowledged and appreciated in this way. That month flew past really fast.

You had a 19-point deficit after the first game against Valmiera in the Eight-Final round, but managed to overcome this hurdle already in the first quarter of the second game. What helped you through this situation?

The first game against Valmiera on the road was really difficult and the six-hour journey to Latvia had a very negative effect. I think our self-confidence and energy from the very start of the game was the key to closing the gap in the second game.

Pyrinto Tampere awaits you in the Quarter-Final stage. How would you rate your chances of advancing though to the Semi-Finals, knowing you’ll play both games on the road?

It will really be very tough and difficult, but we’re not planning to give up just yet.

After arriving to Nevezis, you said that the most important thing for you is a chance to play. Are you happy with your role in the team?

I’m very happy and excited to be here. The coach has shown confidence in me and I’m getting a lot of playing time, as well.

Having been in both situations, what do you think is more valuable – practicing with experienced Euroleague players or getting minutes on a weaker team?

Practicing with Euroleague level players in Zalgiris has helped me a lot and I’m happy to have the chance to show what I’ve learned on the court. It was definitely a useful experience for me.

Do you feel you have grown as a player from the start of the season? Which part of your game did you work on the most?

I feel I have improved and got stronger – both mentally and physically. I couldn’t point out specific elements of my game, as I’ve tried to polish and improve my all-around game and a bit everywhere.

You were considered one of the most talented prospects in your age group in the whole of Europe, but you’ve had some problems with injuries. Do you feel you’ve still got something to show the world? What’s your focus during the practices?

The injury definitely was a setback. After those seven months without basketball, I lost some of my confidence, but that’s all long gone and way back in the past now. Every single day, I work on my game and try show what I can do. I’d say the main focus during practices is on improving my shooting.