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Fan Mail: Yotam Halperin, Olympiacos
A young veteran at 25, Yotam Halperin has relied on more experience than most players his age to help Olympiacos reach its first Final Four this decade. In his eighth Euroleague season, Halperin already has won back-to-back titles and made it to three previous Final Fours with his former team, Maccabi Tel Aviv. Halperin was one of the many new signings who arrived to Olympiacos last summer, and even when it took some time to adjust, he and the Reds reached the playoffs in great shape and seized their Final Four ticket. The road to Berlin has been tough for Olympiacos, overcoming injuries and pressure to reach the big event, as Halperin told us in this Final Four edition of Euroleague Fan Mail. "I have to give the biggest credit in the world to our coaches, who have made a big effort to make us feel like an older, more experienced team," Halperin said in one Fan Mail answer. "It's not easy to build a completely new team and achieve what we did so far."
Hi Yotam! Did your decision to join Olympiacos come with an implicit change of role, since it probably meant giving up playing time in the rigorous rotations Coach Giannakis and with so many go-to guys? Sincerely yours, a devoted Olympiacos fan a little far from Pireaus,
Oskar Johnson-Vlachos - Stockholm, Sweden
"To tell you the truth, I knew that I was coming to a big team with lots of good players. My goal was to slowly build my character and my name as a player here. I am happy that so far those things are happening, and that we have achieved the Final Four in the first season together. Building a new team is not easy, and we have made it happen this season. I have to thank my coaches and teammates, who have helped me adjust fast to this kind of basketball, and I will continue trying to do my best."
You have played alongside Sarunas Jasikevicius at Maccabi. What do you think about the matchup between him and Theo Papaloukas? Good luck in Berlin.
Andreas Georgiadis - Athens, Greece
"First, we are talking about two of the best stars in Europe. Sarunas and Theo have great experience in the Euroleague, have won a lot of titles. Theo is in his seventh Final Four in a row, something amazing. They are very similar players. very strong and important for their teams. They affect their teams a lot inside and outside the court. All I can say is, expect a big battle between them."
Which team would you rather meet in the final, CSKA or Barcelona?
Petras Butkus - Vilnius, Lithuania
"This questions is always a little tough. This is my fourth Final Four, and from my small experience, I know that the first thing is to make the final by winning the semifinal. Honestly, if we make it by beating Panathinaikos, it doesn't matter for us who we play on Sunday."
Shalom, Yotam. First, good luck in the Final Four. I wanted to ask you how it is living in Greece, far away from home, in terms of simple things like friends, neighbors, going to the market, etc.? I am sure you will represent Israel well.
Yochai Basel - Rehovot, Israel
"I believe that everybody wants to stay close to home and family, but in a basketball career, not everything is possible. The best answer for me if I can't be home in Israel is Greece. It's a similar place, has similar food, the people act similarly. It's only an hour-and-a-half flight from Israel, so my family and friends can come. Basically, I am very, very happy and I wish that every season that I am here will be like this one."
Congratulations on reaching the Final Four. What do you think of Josh Childress's first season in Europe? What's it like to play with him?
Dontell Bernard - San Francisco, USA
"First, he's a great guy. I'm talking about off the court. Josh is very pleasant to be around. I am sure it's tough for everyone coming from the NBA for their first season in Europe to adjust very quickly, I think that Josh is doing that, adjusting quickly to the European game. I think that if he stays in Europe, we will see a better Josh every day. He has so many skills and things that he does on the court. He's been playing great and is one of our most important players."
Hello Halperin! You have been on Euroleague champion teams before, so do you feel what you know about winning that, after 10 years, Olympiacos is ready to lift the trophy in Berlin? All the best to Olympiacos in the Final Four! Kind regards,
Alper Fener - Turkey
"I think that the way to the Final Four is very, very tough. Now, because we made it, at the Final Four anything can happen, especially if you watch the teams that are going to Berlin with us. Each of us can win the Final Four. There are only two games to achieve what we need to achieve. Like I said before, the Final Four is short, but you have to go step by step, position by position, and you have to concentrate only on the semifinals first to have any chance to win the trophy."
Dear Yotam. You have changed uniform numbers many times in your career. Why did you choose #10 at Olympiacos?
George Mitropoulos - Greece
"To tell the truth, the number issue is not important for me. When I became a new player at Olympiacos, I knew that for Greek players the uniform number was important, whether they had it for a long time or whatever. I just asked what number was available, and they said 10. I always liked 10, so I took it."
Greetings, Yotam, from Ljubljana! We still miss you here in Slovenia. How much did your season with Union Olimpija help you become a better player? Win in Berlin!
Zan Robic - Ljubljana, Slovenia
"Definitely one of the best and most important seasons for me was the one I spent with Union Olimpija in Ljubljana. I just remember myself as a young kid, 21 years old, trying to get on the best team that I could play on at the time. And I was very happy I chose Olimpija. The city of Ljubljana was great, the people were wonderful, and most important, the team did great. That team helped me more than I thought to make it where I am right now."
Hello Yotam!! I'm a big Olympiacos fan, so I wish you good luck in the Final Four. I enjoy playing basketball more than anything and my dream is to be able to play at a professional level. I want to develop my game much like yours. What should I concentrate on in order to improve my skills? Thank you and good luck again,
Nick Halkias - Greece
"I don't know your age, exactly, but I can say that to be a professional and to be a good basketball player and to have a long career, you have to work every day, both on and off the court. You have to think basketball, live basketball and take care of your body, which is most important. If you have skills and you do those things, they will come forward by themselves. Just remember that every day that goes by will not come back. You have to think and work on basketball every day if you really want to make it."
Yotam, we all know that Maccabi was a very experienced team whose players were together many years, both of which are disadvantages of Olympiacos in this Final Four. In your opinion which is the best way to eliminate those disadvantages?
George Geogeorgios - Lefkas, Greece
"I think that on this point you have touched upon, I have to give the biggest credit in the world to our coaches, who have made a big effort to make us feel like an older, more experienced team. Like I said, it's not easy to build a completely new team and achieve what we did so far. It takes every day spending hours together, hanging around together off the court also. That makes a big difference in a new team. We are going to the Final Four to face a team that has been together for a few years, but I think that is the only disadvantage we have against them."
Monday, April 27, 2009
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