New heights of anticipation!
Hello to all of you again!
We are not getting ready just to play this time. We are getting ready to fly! Our final destination is o2 World in Berlin and the Euroleague Final Four! It’s our final day in Athens before taking off from Eleftherios Venizelos airport, and the anticipation has reached new heights for me and a lot of my teammates. We were and are looking forward to the Final Four like few things ever. It’s like the final countdown that we were waiting for since beating Siena in Italy will finally start the moment we get on the plane!
Speaking about all the days of anticipation between Siena and now, we have been working really hard every single day. We have done the best we can in order to step on the court prepared in the best possible way basketball-wise, but also both mentally and physically. We know all too well that it will not be easy. Our goal is set, we want the trophy, like any team that reaches the Final Four, but we don’t have any illusions that someone is waiting for us in Berlin to just hand it to us as soon as we land there! That would be nice, but it doesn't work that way.
We want the title, but we know we have to proceed step by step. The semifinal has its own special point of reference, since two Greek teams will fight for one place in the Euroleague final. The duel between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos is the talk of the town here in Athens, something special in sports and not only in Greece. We know it too and both teams are preparing in the best possible way. We have played three times already this season and we know each other very well. One thing is for sure: This is a game in the biggest spotlight imaginable. We want to be ready for it. Our fans want the same. They stop us in the streets, asking us to get to the final, to bring the title back in "green" hands!
The level of this Final Four is very high. The other semifinal is expected to be another big game; CSKA Moscow against Barcelona. Different teams, but still a great duel. CSKA is coming back for its seventh straight Final Four, Barcelona demonstrated that is a tough team this year, and we know it very well, since they beat us twice. CSKA has Nikos Zisis on its roster, our fellow Greek player, so we will root for him a little! It's positive that we have another Greek presence through him in this Final Four, but if we both get to the title game, we will try to make him unhappy in the end.
We want to go as far as we can, for us, for our club, for our effort throughout the season, and for our fans. We know that a lot of them will be in Berlin. We couldn't be happier for that, and we want to have them next to us, shouting, chanting, singing - all the things that show what great fans are like. Anything negative is not welcome, in my opinion. The Final Four is a festival of basketball like no other, and should be treated that way by everyone who is privileged enough to be there!
Before leaving you, I must inform you that the Final Four "rookies" on our team have kept their word. We took the whole team out to dinner - on us! It was another great night out, friends among friends! Now we want to do our best as rookies to help our team win the trophy. All of us, rookies or not, must turn words into action on the court. Everything we’ve been talking about since Siena we now have to demonstrate on the court! It’s the only way to achieve our goal! To make a dream come true!
Take care and see you in Berlin, Stratos
Stratos Perperoglou - Athens, Greece
Wednesday, April 29, 2009