Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 19, 2013
bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge
Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
See you in Istanbul!
Hello again Euroleague fans! It’s great to write here again now that we’re back in the Final Four! It is no secret that this was one of our goals at the beginning of the season and we are happy that we’ve managed to accomplish it, but we don't want to stop here! We are two wins away from the championship and that is all we want right now! It wasn't easy, of course; Gescrap BB was a very tough opponent for us in the playoffs. We managed to win both games in Moscow, but lost Game 3 in Bilbao. I don't think they surprised us, but Gescrap made a lot of shots and played really aggressive. It was one of those nights in which a talented team made all the possible shots. They were better than us that night and that led them to a comfortable win.
We definitely played harder in Game 4 and ended up winning the series. Bilbao is a great place to play basketball; they have great fans and the team really deserved to be in the Euroleague playoffs. If there was one good thing about losing against Bilbao, it’s that we stayed a bit longer and had some time to enjoy the sunshine and good weather, which was great.
Of course, we all kept an eye on Game 5 of the playoffs between Panathinaikos and Maccabi, knowing the winner would be our next opponent. Both are great teams and they proved it that night. I saw parts of the game and could tell it was a really good one. Maccabi was down by 10 and still managed to come back and tie the game in the final minute. In the end we will face Panathinaikos, but I guess that playing against Maccabi would have been equally difficult. We have played Panathinaikos twice this season and I know we cannot be relaxed. This third time has nothing to do with the two games we won earlier this season. Both teams have improved since then and Panathinaikos is playing its best basketball right now, especially after beating a very good team like Maccabi. We cannot go to the game thinking that we will beat them easily just because we won a couple of regular season games. We have to scout them well and get ready for the semifinal!
I am not surprised to see FCB Regal and Olympiacos at the Final Four, of course not; both are great teams. Olympiacos was in our Top 16 group and managed to finish second by beating Galatasaray Medical Park and Anadolu Efes, and then they went on to play really well against Montepaschi Siena. I am not surprised at all to see them in the Final Four. Dusan Ivkovic is a great coach and Olympiacos has experienced players that know to handle pressure.
As I said in my previous blog entry, this is going to be my third Final Four. In my first appearance, Panathinaikos beat CSKA in the 2009 final. Every time they get to the Final Four, they seem to find the way to end up winning the title. Coach Zeljko Obradovic does something special with his team to have it completely ready to play its best at the Final Four. We all know they will play hard, play smart and work together as a team. We know we have to play our brand of basketball to win the game and get to the final. We have played each other twice and their frontline has been the same for several years. Many of the players know each other very well and it will be a matter of who wants it more and plays better as a team.
We are all excited, not only the players, but everyone at our club. It is great to be back to the Final Four, especially compared to last season. We will try to do well and bring the trophy back to Moscow, that's what it is all about. This is a very capable team, but we have to prove it on the floor. It will also be great to be back at Sinan Erdem, where we already played this season. It is a great arena! Turkey is one of the best places to play basketball; there are great fans. I am sure a lot of local people will come to watch the games, even though none of the Turkish teams made it to the Final Four. I just hope they come to support us, CSKA Moscow! It is really a great place to play.
I read on Euroleague.net that the Final Four is sold out. Well, I cannot say I am surprised, it is a great event. I feel so fortunate to play for such a great team that gets to the Final Four so often. I had the chance to play the NCAA Tournament Final Four when I played at Kansas and that was also special. In four years with CSKA, this is my third Final Four. I am very fortunate and happy to be a part of this. I hope that CSKA fans are as excited as we are and come to support us at the Final Four. Istanbul is not far from Moscow and I think they have like seven daily flights. Hopefully a lot of CSKA fans will be there to cheer for us – and we hope to give back to them by winning the Euroleague title!
Sasha Kaun - Moscow
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
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Next stop, the Final Four!
See you in Istanbul!
A lot of work to do