Press Conference, Final

May 03, 2009 by Print
Press Conference, Final
Four protagonists of Sunday's title clash that will decide the Euroleague champion for 2008-09 met with the press on Saturday at o2 World in Berlin, Germany to discuss the game. Head coaches Zeljko Obradovic of Panathinaikos and Ettore Messina of CSKA Moscow were joined by their respective players, Vassilis Spanoulis and Viktor Khryapa, to assess the growing rivalry between the teams at the top of European basketball. The final will be a rematch of the title game in 2007, when Panathinaikos defeated CSKA 93-91 on the former's home court, OAKA, in Athens. The two teams have not played each other since that night. They had previously played in the 1996 semifinals, when Panathinaikos prevailed and went on to win its first European title. They also faced off in the third-place game in the 2005 Final Four, which Panathinaikos won in overtime, giving the Greens a 3-0 record against CSKA in Final Four competition.

CSKA Moscow

Zeljko ObradovicZELJKO OBRADOVIC, head coach
“I am very happy to be one more time here in the final and to see Ettore here. It is something normal for him because you know how many times he has been in the final. After the two semifinals, I believe the two teams have the opportunity to play a great game. We will try of course to take the cup. It will be difficult against a team with so much experience with four years in the final, two cups in three years.

“It’s not a new situation. Every Final Four is like this, with less than 48 hours between the semifinal and the final. Like Ettore said, some small details will decide the game. It’s more important to understand what to do in every second you play. We already understand CSKA’s philosophy. We will try in practice to prepare the players, to give them information to be ready.

“I am happy because I have players that love basketball. Every time at Panathinaikos that we sign a player, we check him to know about them. We don’t want to have on our team any kind of problems. Without a doubt, the players are important. Players decide the games.

“Siska is a good player. Yesterday against Barcelona it was amazing to see haw he played in the last quarter. But CSKA is not only Siskauskas. CSKA has other players. They have a good team and know how to play. The team is more important.

“I believe that basketball is very different now than 15 or 18 years ago and now it’s better. Every year we talk about rules and try to change and I believe that it’s good for basketball. One thing I think we should consider that they have in the NBA is the first step on offense. If you watch how many times they take advantage, it is important. This is a big step for offensive play. Over there they have big advantage offensively.

“I am a human being. I reacted after this moment that was really very difficult because our last offense of the game was the best offense that we played all game. We made a correct decision and got the to go inside to Pekovic for the shot. How the ball went outside was incredible. Olympiacos had a chance to try a three and win, but Greer could not shoot, maybe because there were too many people around him. They decided to put the ball inside, Bourousis was unlucky and they missed. What to say? I live for this, it's my job, I love basketball, I like my team, I was happy. I must repeat again, every game against Olympiacos is very special. Everyone in Greece has been doing nothing but talking about this game. After the game I went to talk to all members of Olympiacos, knowing how they feel. Really from my heart I told them they prepared and played an excellent game. Only small details here and there made a difference. This is life, someone wins and someone loses. My 10-year-old son is here, and I try to explain to him that this is just basketball, these are games. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. This is life. But if I come here without motivation, I should do another job."

“I want to repeat. I am very happy in Europe and of course, 10 year at Panathinaikos. I am very happy in Panathinaikos. It was never in my mind to coach in the NBA because it’s a different world and anyone has right to be in place where he is happy. I am very happy in Europe. I don’t need anything else.

“I don’t have a problem if it is 100 or 54 points [scored in the final]. I believe the game will be similar to yesterday or the finals in Athens or Madrid. The players have heart, no question. It will be very good for the fans.” VIDEO

Vassilis SpanoulisVASSILIS SPANOULIS, guard
"It's nice for me and my team to be in the final against a nice team like CSKA. It’s an excellent team with excellent players. We will prepare good for the game. It's a 50/50 game."

"We can’t be so glad after a win in the semifinals and spend energy we need for the final in celebrating. We have experienced coaches and they said that to us. Since yesterday we have been preparing for the final and are not just happy to win the semifinal."

"It is totally different, the basketball in the States and Europe. I like it more here, that’s why I am here. I love to be with my coach and my teammates. We have had great moment s here. Now that we are in the Final Four and the final, the intensity is very high. I believe this is the best Final Four ever. Hopefully for us, we will achieve our goal."

"Great feeling. We prepared ourselves very nice for these days, for the Final Four. We try to play our game. We are not stressed. Very focused on our strategy and what the coaches told us. Who would not want to be here. I am very lucky to be here and play in these games." VIDEO

Ettore MessinaETTORE MESSINA, head coach
"I am not happy to see Zelimir on the court. Off the court it's different. You know how much I respect him. The two games yesterday were liked by all the fans. The final is a very balanced game. To predict anything is useless. We will prepare well and try to win. It will be a close game.

"What you can do is give the players information and trust that they can do what they must with the information to create surprises and not be surprised. We will have many great players on the court to decide the game.

"In these game I tell my players not to spend energy on what happens. If you think about winning or losing, you waste energy. You have to focus on 40 minutes on the floor and forget the rest. If you do this, you have a better chance. If you get caught up in other thinking, you arrive mentally exhausted.

"We always have good teams. Excellent teams, excellent player, excellent people who accept their roles to put team before person and make our jobs easier. Obviously not every time all the players are good, some play less and are not happy, but 99 percent we found people that make us happy.

"I think we will mistake if we put pressure on Siskauskas to win the game. He played a great fourth quarter, but maybe if Viktor didn't do what he did on defense, with steals and stopping other players in the first half, we would not have made it. So we will just wait aid see who steps up in the final.

"Sasha [Kaun] is a great story. He came this year after experiencing life in college, winning the Final Four in college. Last month we felt he could give us something in a big game, so we played him. We all like him so much as a persona and as a player. He's already giving us a big contribution as a player and hopeful he will again tomorrow.

"As a person I would love to have Theo again, but I would need to take someone out to have him and I would not want to do that. Maybe I would take Siska out and then we would lose. Let him enjoy his new team and let us go on to a new challenge." VIDEO

Viktor KhryapaVIKTOR KHRYAPA, forward
"It's good to be in the final and face a good team. It was a good two semifinals last night. Both teams deserve to be here in the final and both deserve to win the final."

"The NBA from my point of view is more about the show. It’s more for the fans. There are twice as many games and it’s all based on people coming to watch. In Europe it’s still based on old tradition and it’s about winning the game. We play one Euroleague game a week and won local game. We only think about the next game. Everyone wants to win. All the players have that feeling, no matter if it’s the Final Four, Top 16 or playoff games. That is how players are. Everyone wants to win because maybe this game decides where you are at the end of the season." VIDEO