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Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
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Hi everyone. We're on our way to Paris with an intense and successful finish to our preparations! We played the quarterfinals of the Greek League playoffs over the weekend, winning on Saturday and Monday to advance to the semis. We finished up the series on Monday night in Thessaloniki, flew back to Piraeus, and by midday on Tuesday were on our way to Paris already! I think it has been good for everybody playing right up to our departure in serious games - and especially winning them! Those kinds of things can help you get confidence and work on some things for the Final Four. But I think that for every team this has been a tough couple of weeks prior to the big event. Our semifinals opponent, Partizan, played the final of the Adriatic League, winning in overtime one of the most incredible games I've seen in awhile. For them, it was the right place at the right time, and they must be feeling good about winning, too. But the truth is that on Friday, what we all did the last few weeks doesn't count anymore. It's a new page, a new game, everything completely new that night. We all start from zero again.
Everybody had time rest or get rid of injuries, and by playing at the end, everybody has caught the rhythm needed to be ready. On our team, everyone is a professional and knows his own way to prepare himself for the semifinal on Friday. I believe everything and everyone is crucial at this point. The time is now and everybody has to give 110 percent. For my own preparation, it often depends on the minutes I am playing. I was not playing in the last Greek League games, because I have been off the roster as the extra foreign player in this part of the season, so I had to do extra work by myself to get in shape and prepare my body for the Final Four. Everyone has to prepare his own way, like I said, but we also have to study the details we need to know for Friday. I say that because any small detail can make the difference in a Final Four. All the steps we have to take individually to be ready are important, but most important of all is our teamwork. We have to be together as much as we can be and then those details will turn into winning ones.
So it turns out we are going to Paris a day earlier than we expected, due to a strike here in Greece on Wednesday. But my experience at the Final Four says that it can help us, an extra day on the scene. It's often better to get to the hotel early, have everyone together, have a couple good practices and just get ready in the same place where we are going to play. Everyone knows that at a Final Four you have to get used to the baskets, to a new and different and unique atmosphere. So the fact that we came a day early, in my opinion, cannot hurt us.
The Partizan team we will play in Friday is young, talented and full of enthusiasm. It's a great opportunity for most of their players to go to their first Final Four, so for sure they will come out strong and excited, especially in the first minutes of the game. As I said in the first blog, everyone still talks of them as the surprise of the season, and maybe they are on paper, but I don't think you can call them that anymore. They've had too great of a season playing and beating the best teams in Europe to be a surprise to us. Partizan is Partizan. We will have to be ready for every second of the game. The best example is what they did against Maccabi, being down 20 points at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv by coming back to win easy. They have so many good shooters, so much athleticism and so much enthusiasm. But I think we have so much experience going on the floor, guys who have been to the Final Four so many times, that it's an advantage for us. Knowing what the atmosphere will be like, we don't have to get crazy or panic if our first couple of shots go out. Almost each and every Final Four is like that. It comes with the excitement. But it's also true that the team that comes out aggressive at the beginning of the game with get the first advantage, and that's what makes the first minutes important for us against Partizan.
So that's all until after Friday. I hope that all the fans out there see great basketball this weekend and I hope that Olympiacos is the last team standing on Sunday!
Yotam Halperin - Piraeus
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
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Here we go again!