For Serbian Aleksandar Kesar, head coach of the Shandong provincial basketball team, the immense pressure that he feels ahead of the semifinals of the 2017-2018 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) also contains a healthy dose of pleasure.
Shandong completed a 3-0 sweep of Jiangsu in the CBA quarterfinals last Sunday to set up a semifinal showdown against Guangsha. It's the first time since 2013 that Shandong have reached the league semifinals stage.
Kesar once coached in Europe before coming to Shandong as assistant coach in 2013-2014, and was appointed head coach in April, 2015.
Kesar says that his long contract is the most important thing behind the team's current success.
"The most important (thing), I think, is the continuity in work for years. After that, I think it is our confidence. My job is to convince my team that we can make it. First to be top 6, then top 4, and right now I am trying to convince them to play good in semifinal," Kesar explained.
Coaching is demanding. But pressure, in Kesar's eyes, is very important as he aims to do everything that is given to him, and pressure leads to success.
"People are talking (about) pressure because they are not responsible for these things. If you put them in my place, they will know how difficult to make one win, not to mention 30 wins like we've done until now.
"From my experience, I am used to handling pressure in Europe when working with big teams. If you work in big teams, you have pressure to win, and that is what makes a coach's job.
"Pressure is becoming pleasure, since we are playing in the semifinals. My players are ready to fight with pressure. Why not try to play best basketball in semifinal."
In the 2017-2018 CBA season, four teams in the top eight are led by European coaches - Lithuanian Jonas Kazlauskas at Guangdong, Slovenian Memi Becirovic with Jiangsu, and Greek Yannis Christopoulos of Beijing and Kesar.
"They are all experienced coaches. But the most important (thing) is that everybody is playing in the playoff," said Kesar.
Kesar added that victory always means that everything okay, but whenever there is a loss, there are doubts about the coach. Kesar said that this is normal everywhere.
"It is a bad influence and (causes) bad energy. Those who say negative things are people with (vested) interests. Shandong is a big club, and many want to come here. There are still many who support us and see what we have done in the last couple of years.
"I don't pay attention to this stuff; I only pay attention to my job.
"The court is my church, my temple," he said.
Guangsha reached the semifinals after eliminating Shenzhen 3-2. Meanwhile, Shandong have more rest days before the best-of-seven semifinal series on March 28. Kesar is aware of the upcoming difficulties.
"They will be tired, but in a competitive shape. We need to be smart to try to use this period to prepare and heal up our energy to play a long series," said Kesar.
"If you like to win any game, every player in my team must be at their 100%. No matter who he is," Kesar added.