bwin Fantasy Challenge winner's VIP Final Four experience!
|Playing bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge certainly has its privileges, as this season's winner, Inna Polak of Israel, can attest to after her experiences at the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. Among other things, Inna was courtside for one of the most exciting finishes in basketball history before she joined the trophy celebration on the Sinan Erdem Arena floor itself. Like almost everyone else, Inna was ready to congratulate CSKA players for the title. Then, all of a sudden, Olympiacos came back from 19 points behind to become the new champion. Inna was enjoying her own grand prize as the champion of bwin Fantasy Challenge, a VIP weekend for two at the Final Four. She brought along her father as her guest, since both worked on the fantasy team together. With time winding down on the wildest final ever, they were up-close witnesses to everything happening around them - the drama, the joy, the celebration and the surprise. Inna enjoyed everything that winning bwin Fantasy Challenge brings, but especially sharing the floor with newly-crowned Olympiacos, a privilege reserved only for champions, like her.
First of all, how exciting was for you to be on the court right after the Euroleague final?
"It was special... Me and my father took pictures and videos, one of the other with the celebration in the background. The atmosphere was happy and chaotic, especially in the first minutes!"
It was the most exciting finish of a Euroleague season in many years. Do you feel privileged to have been there, so close to the winners?
"It was strange. Only a few minutes before, I thought I would find myself in another team's celebration. I must admit that I was a bit upset for Andrei Kirilenko, whose performance this season was enormous, quality-wise, and spectacular."
As a basketball experience, how was the Final Four? How much fun did you have in Istanbul?
"It was a great experience, not just the Final Four but also being in the same hotel and buses with a lot of basketball figures and attending the Efes Euroleague Awards Ceremony. I went to some tourist places with my father like Sultanahmet and Taksim, too."
Is it true you had the chance to talk to Andrei Kirilenko at the Efes Euroleague Award Ceremony?
"Yes! My father and I are Israelis, but also Russian speakers (besides Hebrew). Of course, most of our stay in Istanbul we communicated with others in English. Before the awards ceremony, I had the privilege to have a short chat with Kirilenko, in Russian, and he even offered to take a picture together (which I was going to ask him anyway). My father, who approached us during the chat, forgot for a moment that he could speak, for once, in his mother tongue, and started in English. I immediately reminded him of that and we all had a good laugh."
You were champion after 21 rounds of bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge. Were all your efforts rewarded by being at such a special Final Four?
"It was more of my father's effort, but yes, of course. Actually it's a lot of effort when you play to win, and you don't always win, so you also must like Fantasy Challenge itself as a game."
Having experienced all the benefits of winning the contest, would you recommend that people play Fantasy Challenge next season?
"Yes, of course, if anyone likes to watch and follow basketball! One of the keys is to watch the games of as many teams as possible and to be informed all the time."