| Entering his second Final Four, Fan Mail guest David Bluthenthal of Maccabi Elite is aiming for nothing short of a repeat of his first trip. In 2004, Bluthenthal’s hot shooting helped Maccabi lift the crown with a record-setting win in Tel Aviv. His career has taken him to different stops since then, but this season he returned to Maccabi and based on his popularity from the many questions sent to fan mail, it’s easy to see why. Bluthenthal is already among the top 50 three-point shooters in Euroleague history and that fact is not lost on his fans, who sent him a number of questions about his shooting. He also addressed a number of on- and off-court topics, including who the best players on the Final Four teams are, his favorite Euroleague arena to play at and what makes Maccabi such a great team to play for. Bluthenthal summed everything up with this philosophy on life: "I think it's important in basketball and in life to be consistent," Bluthenthal said, "and to approach each game or each work day with the same professional energy and to have the same mindset going into each game."
Dear, David. I am an Italian Maccabi fan. I visited Tel Aviv to see the incredible match against Barcelona and I came back very, very happy. My question is how important was the energy of coach Sherf for you this year?
Alberto Segre - Biella, Italy
"I think Zvika Sherf's energy was good for our team. He brought a lot of defensive intensity and that's something that we needed and that we didn't have at the beginning of the year."
David, good luck in Madrid! I'll be there cheering Maccabi! My question: As you see it, who is the most dangerous player in each of the other three Final Four teams, and why? Thank you,
Lior Zadok - Tel Aviv, Israel
"I think for Montepaschi, Terrell McIntyre is their most dangerous player. He handles the ball most of the game, he makes good decisions and he's a great shooter. In Tau I would have to say their point guard as well, Prigioni. Also a very good defender, lots of steals, good decision-maker who really gets the guys on their team involved in the game. And on CSKA, it's tough to say. They have a lot of big name guys. If I had to choose one, I would say Papaloukas. Good decision maker, good defender and he can score in the post on smaller guards. Basketball today is guard play. Basketball is controlled by the guards offensively and defensively. Put it this way, if you have a good guard who can get into the paint and distribute the ball and make shots, you're going to look good on offense. And if you have a guard that can stop the other guard from doing that, then you have a better chance of your defense being able to stay home with their own players. So everything starts with the guards, on offense and on defense."
Dear David, Hi! Congratulations on making the Final Four in such great style. Your sharpshooting (especially from downtown) has been a major weapon for Maccabi. I remember your big game against Bologna in the 2004 final as well. How did you develop such an instinctive "catch-and-shoot" style in your game?
Hadar Crown - Israel
"I think it's pretty natural for me. I've always been a good shooter. I've shot a lot in practice and I still shoot a lot in practice. And I'm even shooting when I'm not shooting in practice... In my mind. It's something that I take pride in and I enjoy and I continue to work on."
Dear David Bluthenthal, Can you share with me how you shoot three-pointers so well? What's your technique? I'm playing in a team (also called Maccabi ) and sometimes I'm good at three-pointers, but mostly I miss them. How can I make them consistently like you do?
Rafi - Belgium
"Well number one I think is a lot of practice. Finding a good touch, a good rhythm is important. Believing in your shot, even if you miss a couple, is very important. And thinking about it all the time and visualizing yourself shooting when your going to bed at night also helps."
Hi David! I want to ask you about your shooting: Although you surely keep working to perfect it, at what age did you find your shot?
Omer Peer - Israel
"I found the form I use now I'd say around 13. When I was younger than that I had a different-looking shot, but it was good. I think I found a good rhythm for myself when I was about 13. When I was younger, 10, 11, 12, I would shoot from the side, from my shoulder, so I could get more power. Once I got a little more upper body strength, I was able to put the ball in front of me and shoot the way I do now."
David, What is your favorite thing about living in Tel Aviv?
Nir – Tel Aviv
"Probably the weather. I love warm places. I was born and raised in Los Angeles on the beach and Tel Aviv is very similar to that. It's very relaxing and I really enjoy being in the sun and getting energy from the sun."
Hi David. What is the different between playing for Coach Sherf and Coach Kattash this season, as compared to playing for Coach Gershon in 2004? Good luck in the Final Four and come back with the title!
Nissan Ganat - Tel Aviv , Israel
"Playing for Pini in 2004 was my second year as a professional, so I was still learning. I didn't have that much pressure on me to play every game. I thought that Pini was very understanding about the type of person I am. He never lost his confidence in me and it showed because he let me play towards the end of the season and believed in my game. Kattash is a younger coach and I think he's still learning the ropes. I thought that he had a lot of good ideas and unfortunately we didn't respond to what he needed to keep his job. And Zvika brought a higher level of defensive intensity and ideas about defense and what it should mean to the team. That sums it up a lot."
Dear David, What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
Josh Raskin - Michigan, U.S.A.
"Definitely winning the 2004 Euroleague championship and also playing well in that game. That's the biggest achievement in my basketball career."
Hi David, Can you tell me what is your favorite arena to play in as a visiting player?
Diego - Madrid
"Good question. I would have to say – even though I didn't play that much – Barcelona. They have great rims, I really enjoyed their rims and really enjoyed the atmosphere and I really enjoyed the city. There are a couple others, but if I had to choose one off the top of my head I would say Barcelona."
Hi David. What do you think makes Maccabi such a winning basketball club and how do you think that tradition will help you in the Final Four?
Eitan Azran - Ramat Gan - Israel
"I think it starts from the devotion of the fans, first of all. Their enthusiasm really helps us and we want to win for them. And from there I think it definitely goes to the management. Shimon Mizrahi, Ra'anan Katz, David Federman, Mony Fanan and all the guys in charge of putting Maccabi together. I think they do such a great job. First of all gathering the talent and then taking care of them throughout the year so that basketball is the only thing you have to worry about. And then it's the character of the players the management always gets. They always seem to find good guys, good people off the court and I think that helps to be better on the court."
Hi David. I am one of your big fans. My question is: Do you try any special preparation before an important game like the first one against Siena in the Final Four?
Yuval - Tel Aviv, Israel
"No. I pretty much do the same preparation that I do before every game. I think it's important in basketball and in life to be consistent and to approach each game or each work day with the same professional energy and to have the same mindset going into each game."