MVP Martinez: Intercontinental Cup title 10 months in the making for Flamengo
CAIRO (Egypt) - Lucas Martinez and his Flamengo teammates of course were overjoyed to capture the 2022 FIBA Intercontinental Cup. But the tournament MVP had a certain level of relief as well knowing that the title was 10 months in the making.
Flamengo earned the club's second FIBA Intercontinental Cup crown by knocking off reigning champs Hereda San Pablo Burgos 75-62 to add another piece of hardware to the trophy from 2014. Martinez was one of the heroes in the game as he collected 15 points on 5 three-pointers to go with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
"I credit my teammates. I need them to get me the ball to be able to shot threes. All the credit goes towards them and the coaches for putting everybody in the position to trust each other," said Martinez, who picked up 14 points with 4 three-pointers, 3 rebounds and 4 assists in Flamengo's 94-71 victory over Lakeland Magic in the Semi-Finals.
"It's just amazing what we can do. I'm glad I got the MVP, but it could have well been anybody on this team. We're that great of a team. It can be anybody's night. We're a family and this award goes to them," said Martinez, who received the MVP trophy from Greek star Vassilis Spanoulis, who was MVP of this event in 2013 when Olympiacos Piraeus won it.
Martinez, a Mexican-American born in North Dakota, said he is just happy to have the chance to play in such a great competition like this.
"Credit to Coach for giving me the opportunity to come out here and play for him. The club Flamengo is just an amazing opportunity. I'm a team-first guy. I don't try to win awards or do anything like that. Everything is for the team for me," he said.
Martinez actually won the Intercontinental Cup for a second time after he had 5 points and 2 rebounds in Venezuelan side Guaros de Lara's 74-69 victory over Fraport Skyliners in the 2016 final.
Martinez said the celebrations at the Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall were a long time in the making. Flamengo booked their spot in the event by defeating Real Esteli 84-80 to win the Basketball Champions League Americas crown on April 14, 2021.
"It's been a long 10 months and ever since I've gotten to Flamengo, it's all we've been talking about," said Martinez, who had 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 steals in the BCLA Final.
After all the preparation back home looking ahead to the event, there was still the long journey to travel from Rio de Janeiro to Cairo.
"We took an 11-hour flight and then had to spend another nine hours in the airport in Paris and then another five-hour flight to get here," Martinez recalled. "It was a long trip but at the end of the day, it was well worth it."
Once finally in Egypt and prepared to give the club another title - not to mention make good for losing in the 2019 Intercontinental Cup Final to AEK Athens - it was time for Martinez and co. to get the job done.
"The focus, the togetherness, the family feeling .. the one thing on our mind was to win this thing for the club of Flamengo," Martinez said "We prepared a lot, a lot of hard work and we believed in each other. And we came out and showed it."
And made the 10 months of waiting well worth it.