My team-mates are looking at me – Giannis revels in leading role
MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo said he enjoys leading the way after helping the Milwaukee Bucks earn a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals.
The high-flying Bucks took control of the NBA playoff series thanks to Friday's 125-103 rout of the Raptors in Game 2 in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo – one of three finalists for the MVP award – posted 30 points and 17 rebounds and the Greek star revelled in the result.
"I think mentally we were ready for this game," Antetokounmpo, who is vying with James Harden and Paul George for the league's top honour, said. "I think once the game started, we did a great job setting the tone. We just wanted to protect home.
"We knew that the Raptors were going to come and try to play hard and try to get one at our place, but we just wanted this game.
"I know every night when the game starts my team-mates are looking at me. I think it definitely gave the team a lot of energy."
Antetokounmpo received plenty of support against the second-seeded Raptors, with Ersan Ilyasova contributing 17 points off the bench, while Nikola Mirotic (15), Malcolm Brogdon (14) and George Hill (13) also chipped in.
"It's amazing," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "It's so nice seeing guys come into the game being mentally prepared, setting the tone for the whole team and just playing hard. In this team, any given night, guys can step up. You really don't know where it's going to come from.
"Tonight, Ersan had a great game. George Hill had a great game. In Game 3, someone else is going to have a great game. This is the beauty of basketball. This is the beauty of our team, that we trust one another. We've been winning, so it feels good."
With the series moving to Toronto for Game 3 on Sunday, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said: "We're going to lose some games, and we're going to keep doing what we've been doing all year. You can't just base it on the results.
"Obviously tonight was a huge positive. The guys have learned a way to play. They believe in it. We believe in it. The more positive results you get, sure it reinforces it.
"It just lets them know that nothing is going to change. We'll just continue that going into Game 3, win or lose, going into Game 4."