|The picture of Drew Nicholas defending like crazy until last season's final second and then jumping on his teammates to celebrate Euroleague title in Berlin will be stamped in the minds of Panathinaikos fans for a long time. His was the unique joy of a first-time Euroleague champion. As Nicholas says in these Fan Mail answers, the winning moment will also be stamped on his mind as Panathinaikos tries to climb out of an 0-2 hole in the Top 16. Even though the Greens face back-to-back games coming up against mighty Barcelona, it would be wise once again to never underestimate the heart of a champion. "There is no lack of motivation," Nicholas said in one Fan Mail answer. "The feeling of us winning last year is all the motivation that we need, because it was such a special time for us. Why wouldn’t you want to go ahead and repeat that performance? Some people say that they get completion after they’ve done won it all, but once you do it and you understand how special it is, how great of a feeling it is, it’s like… I don’t know… contagious. And you want to keep on doing it."
Drew, you seemed to have as much fun as anyone after winning the Euroleague trophy last year. What did that accomplishment mean for you?
Raul Llaneras - Madrid
"The accomplishment itself was one of the best feelings that I have had in my career, especially my professional career. Probably the biggest one I can really remember close to the one in the NCAA championship, that I won being at school. Being in Berlin and participating in a Final Four and being able to win is just a remarkable achievement, so obviously I am very happy."
Drew, I am a fan of Panathinaikos from Greece. I am big fan of yours also. Congratulations for your career so far. Do you think we can repeat last year's success? Is there anything wrong except from the injuries? Do you want to stay in the team for many years to come? With respect,
John - Greece
"Obviously we still have all the possibilities. We haven’t started the way we wanted to in the first two games of the Top 16, but we have four more, so we still have a chance for all the things we want to repeat from last year. To be honest the injuries played a big part, since we never got the chance to play all together fully as a team for a good stretch of time. It seems that it is only one or two weeks at a time that we can all practice and play together and then it seems that someone else gets hurt. So, it’s still very much a work in progress. If I want to stay in the team for the years to come? This is a question I have answered many times before. I love Panathinaikos. There is not another club in Europe that I would like to go. Obviously, sometimes things are business, but as long as Panathinaikos wants me here, I will be more than glad to stay in Panathinaikos."
What was the toughest team and the toughest game you played this season in Euroleague?
Stevan Miletic - Serbia
"I would probably have to say Real Madrid. It’s the only team that beat us twice. We faced them in the Euroleague and they were able to beat us also here, at OAKA, and so I would probably have to say Madrid."
Hi, Drew Nicholas. Can you give me some tips on how I can improve my defense and shooting?
Luke Camilleri - Malta
"First of all for defense, more that anything it's the desire to play defense. I don’t think it's so much a special skill, or a special way of doing things. Unless you are someone like Diamantidis, who just has an amazing knack for being around the ball. Shooting for me is repetition. Going to gym every day, working and making sure you have the proper mechanics and once you have the proper mechanics, you know, just shoot the ball a lot. The more you shoot, the better you will become."
Hi, Drew. Although you are getting some boos when you are back in Istanbul, you should know that you left an inspirational mark on a lot of Turkish fans. Personally, I will never forget your performance against Panathinaikos in your last Efes season. Do you feel disappointed about the way your time at Efes ended? Could a return be possible for you in the future? Regards,
Cem Pekdogru - Istanbul, Turkey
"Looking back on it, I could say that I am a little disappointed. Anytime you go to a team, you want to fulfill all the requirements of the contract, and it was just a special situation that I had to make a decision. Looking back on it, maybe I made the wrong decision. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. At the time, I made the best decision for myself and for the people closest to me. I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to win titles at Efes. That’s why I went to Efes. I wanted to win and obviously my stay was a little short. About a possible return now… For me, it's already been two years. It’s an old matter. I don’t have any hard feelings towards Efes or anybody in Turkey or anything like that. If some team in Turkey wants me, Efes or any other team, I would gladly consider it."
Hello, Drew. Since you are one of the few people to do it, can you compare winning the NCAA and winning the Euroleague? Regards,
Brian Samuels - Washington, D.C.
"I would say the comparison is very similar. Growing up in the States, in America, the NCAA championship is such a big event. You grow up watching it and it’s something you dream of doing. The Euroleague title is one of those things that once you become a professional and you start to play on the Euroleague level, that’s the biggest achievement you can have, so you want to be able to do it. So it’s very, very similar. Both are Final Fours, the atmosphere is great… They are both tremendous, tremendous feelings. I can’t say that the one is better than the other. They are 1a and 1b, with neither above the other."
Hi Drew! Olympiacos seems to be quite strengthened this year, especially on its front-line with the addition of Linas Kleiza. Do you believe that you are ready to confront them considering all these injuries your team has had during the season?
Petros - Greece
"Everyone knows that the fight between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos is great. This year will be exactly the same. We play each other in two weeks for the Greek Cup and probably at the end of the year for the Greek championship. I believe that Panathinaikos will be 100% ready to play Olympiacos every time that we play them, no matter the injuries, no matter anything."
Hello, Drew. You grew up in America but what do you think now about European basketball that you didn't know before? Good luck,
Angelo Paolucci - Naples, Italy
"European basketball to me is a lot like college basketball. It’s very different to the NBA. I never played in the NBA, but in Europe, as in college, it’s so much more of a team game. All five guys are very important and vital in terms of what is going on on the court. It’s actually the type of basketball that I like more to play."
Hi, Drew. After last season, Panathinaikos retained all the key players of the team, but this season the team is not playing as it should play. Is there any lack of motivation? Regards,
Mindaugas Noreika, Lithuania
"No! There is no lack of motivation. I think everybody understands that we were dealing with some things with injuries, but I think the feeling of us winning last year is all the motivation that we need, because it was such a special time for us. Why wouldn’t you want to go ahead and repeat that performance? Some people say that they get completion after they’ve won it all, but once you do it and you understand how special it is, how great of a feeling it is, it’s like… I don’t know… contagious. And you want to keep on doing it. I definitely don’t think that there is any lack of motivation."
Drew, can you say something about what is a scorer's mentality, especially since you scored more before joining Panathinaikos, but you still have to score in special moments now? How do you keep the mentality? I hope you win again someday,
Namir - Israel
"It’s something that I have always done in my career. Especially earlier in my career, everybody asked me to score a lot of points. And even now in Panathinaikos, everybody has their chances. We play such a team basketball, it’s not like we rely on one or two people. Every game in Panathinaikos, a different player can step up: Mike, Pekovic, Spanoulis the list goes on and on. It’s not necessarily a scorer’s mentality. I would say it’s a mentality to help the team win, in any way possible. Scoring one day, playing defense another day or… I don’t know…whatever it is. It’s more a team mentality and a winning mentality."