|Reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Nick Calathes has steadily grown in importance and stature since he first joined Panathinaikos nearly three years ago. And now entering his second Final Four, Calathes has proven that he has the all-around skills to impact games in various ways on the brightest stages. Whether it is through his defense, game smarts, shooting, passing or creating opportunities in transition, Calathes is one of the most important pieces of the Greens’ puzzle. Before heading to Istanbul Calathes sat down to answer questions from fans around the world in pre-Final Four edition of Fan Mail. “From the beginning the season, you come in and your goal is the Final Four. Once you get there it’s all focused on that,” he told one fan about the challenge that awaits. “You have to play to win. First the semifinal game and it’s difficult. It’s not like any game you play during the regular season or even the Top 16. It’s a single game elimination. If you win you move on, if not, you –in a sense – go home.”
Hi Nick. You are the defending champs and had some big roster changes from last season. In games as close as these – with great teams and lots of talent and dedication – what matters most in the end? Execution or heart? Good luck in the Final Four!
Michael Lazarou, Cyprus
“I think both… Execution obviously is one of the fundamentals of the game. You have to execute correct, take the right shots, make the right decisions for your team to be able to close at the end, and also you need heart, especially in defense. You have to stop the other team from scoring and that’s heart, that’s wanting to win the game and things like that.”
Hello Nick. Panathinaikos is full of great people, works well as a team and has Zeljko Obradovic and Dimitris Itoudis to solve any problems. What can you achieve in this really difficult – maybe the most difficult – Final Four?
Kostantina, Trikala, Greece
“Obviously we have a very tough game against CSKA and we have to play well and after that nobody knows who will play, but first of all we have a very difficult task against CSKA Moscow. Hopefully, if we play well as a team and things go well for us, we can win that game.”
Hi Nick, I am a big fan of Panathinaikos. You have played better and better in the last two years! What does Coach Obradovic say to you to help you improve and how does he treat his players?
“One thing about coach is that he is on you as a player. He has pushed me since my first year here to work on my shot, to run the team, to put everyone in the right position as a point guard. He treats his players in a fair way. He cares about us and he wants us to be the best players we can be; as basketball players, as individuals and as a team. He does well putting those two together and I think that’s why he is so successful and we are successful too.”
Nick, you are a tough competitor and your passion for winning shows on the court. Is it true that you credit your high school coach for this toughness?
Reggie Kohn, USA (Nick Calathes’s hugh school coach)
“My freshman year I played varsity. My high school coach, who was very young, came out of college to coach us. He taught me a lot because he played college basketball at a high level and I respect him a lot; I still talk to him now and he has taught me a lot, really. But every summer I go home and I can outshoot him!”
Congratulations for reaching the Final Four again! As a big fan of Panathinaikos, I am very pleased that you will have the chance to defend your title. I would like to know how difficult it is to focus on anything but the Final Four. I mean, it must be the number one goal of the season!
Thomas Alissavakis, Sweden
“From the beginning the season, you come in and your goal is the Final Four. Once you get there it’s all focused on that. Those two games you have to play to win. First the semifinal game and it’s difficult. It’s not like any game you play during the regular season or even the Top 16. It’s a single game elimination. If you win you move on, if not you –in a sense – go home.”
Hello Nick! You have played in Turkey against Fenerbahce Ulker and at the 2010 World Champs. How do you like the country, its fans and Sinan Erdem Arena? Good luck!
Murat Isik, Turkey
“The country supports basketball very much; Sinan Erdem Arena is very nice and I look forward to playing there again. I think Istanbul is a very nice city”.
Hello Nick. How did you imagine your basketball career when you were younger, around 13 to 15 years old?
Nick Haralampous, Rhodes, Greece
“I have always wanted to play professional basketball. Growing up in the USA, one of my main goals was to play to the NBA and hopefully one day this dream will come true. But, honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better professional career so far, here in Panathinaikos.”
Congratulations for getting back to the Final Four, I hope you will be the champion again! A lot of people say CSKA has better chances. What do you think? Psychology plays a vital role in these games. Good luck!
Athanasios-Aggelos Petropoulos, Greece
“We have believed from the beginning of the year that we can beat everybody. When we step on the court, I think psychology is a big thing. When you come to the Final Four and you believe that you can win, then anything is possible as a team.”
What is the first thing that you will do if you win the Euroleague? Wish you all the best!
Jasmina Tatovic, Serbia
“We’ll celebrate!!! Right now I really don’t know, but if it comes to that point and we win, I’ll send you a message and I will let you know!!!”