First of all, I am really happy with all the awards I have received lately. It is too much! I have to thank my coaches, my teammates, my team's staff and all the Fenerbahce fans, because even though these are individual awards, I would not have won anything without their support. This is a team sport and the only reason I am getting all these awards is because we are winning as a team, together, so shout out to them. Being the EuroLeague MVP for April is great, because that is playoff time and if you get it, it means that Fenerbahce has made it to the Final Four, which was one of our goals this season. I was shocked when I heard I had made it to the All-EuroLeague First Team! I worked really hard throughout my career to be in the best position to succeed, and I grew up watching the EuroLeague on TV, then playing it as a teenager, so being one of the best five players in the competition – along with my teammate Ekpe Udoh – is great. Thank you, EuroLeague media and fans for your votes! I just hope we all can make a final push and give our very best in the Final Four.
I even bought a new suit for the awards ceremony! Well, I will have a busy summer because I also have many friends who will get married. I had already bought one, but having a second suit is always a good option. Make no mistake, the awards ceremony is cool, but the only important thing is the game against Real Madrid and if we win it, then the final. Nothing else! We are very focused on them; we managed to finish first in the Turkish League regular season and after that, we have 10 days to prepare for the game against Madrid. We were supposed to play the weekend before the Final Four, but the Turkish League and Anadolu Efes allowed us to play earlier, so that we have more time to prepare for the Final Four, which is a good thing.
Of course, people are crazy about the Final Four, and I have to say this once and for all: I don't have tickets! :) All tickets are sold out and all I know that there are some websites that sell tickets from other people who cannot make it in the end. It is official and everything, but don't ask me; I don't have tickets, not anymore!
Both us and Madrid know each other very well, but this time both teams will have a full roster available for the first time this season. I am sure it will be a very interesting game and very tough, of course. Obviously, they had an amazing season and are a great team with depth, solid leaders and dangerous players in many positions. We are working on figuring out how to play this game. I believe this will be the toughest Final Four I have been to, especially because of the tough season we all had. The other three teams did not lose as many games as we did and that cost us the home-court advantage, but all the teams found their way to qualify. Olympiacos was down 1-2 and almost eliminated, but qualified. Nobody expected us to qualify and we did. Nobody expected Real Madrid to lose at home, but they did and qualified anyway.
The biggest lesson I learned in previous Final Fours is that every possession is important. That's it. It is very important to focus on the things we are preparing, nothing special, play our game and focus on what we do. Of course, Final Four games are much different than any other. There is a lot of pressure, because your season goes down to one game and anybody can win it. You know it can be your last chance, so you try to be more competitive and focused; you have more motivation, but also more pressure.
I am looking forward to the other semifinal, CSKA against Olympiacos. Both teams are very experienced and have played many, many times in the Final Four. Like us and Madrid, they faced each other a couple of years ago. I am sure it will be a very interesting game; Olympiacos is a more defensive team, CSKA is more offensive, but again, it is one game and anybody can win. I am sure Pero Antic and Kostas Sloukas want Olympiacos to win because they played over there, but at the end of the day, we are only thinking about the semifinal against Madrid. The final is far away! Madrid was first in the regular season and would be a great achievement for us to beat them and advance to the final. It is all about winning two games next weekend. That's what we all want to do.
I grew up in Serbia and watched the Final Four on TV, so being here is unbelievable. Right now, it is the other way around; I cannot imagine myself watching the Final Four on TV, I need to be there! After two Final Fours, and now going back for a third time, I got used to it and hope we can get there with the right approach. Again, I can't picture myself right now watching it on TV. I need to be there, fighting for the EuroLeague title.
My good friend Nemanja Nedovic won the EuroCup with Unicaja Malaga. We talk a lot during the season and I am very happy for him for winning the EuroCup and bringing Malaga back to the EuroLeague. I am sure he will be happy if I win the EuroLeague, no doubt! We will give everything we have to try to make it happen!