Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 18, 2013
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Beijing Ducks coach, Jordi Bertomeu meet
Proving the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four is a global event that knows no borders or limits, Euroleague President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu had the chance to meet Chinese head coach Min Lulei, who led the Beijing Ducks to win the Chinese CBA Championship this season. The Turkish Airlines Euroleague has had extended coverage in China and the interest for the competition has risen throughout the years. Three TV channels - Guangdong TV, CSPN and CCTV - are broadcasting the final between CSKA and Olympiacos tonight. Lulei has coached Beijing for more than a decade and has worked as current CSKA coach Jonas Kazlauskas's assistant coach with the Chinese national team. Kazlauskas and Lulei had the chance to greet each other earlier on at the Final Four. "I am very happy to come to the Final Four, it is a very exciting event. All four teams had chances to go to the final and there is a great level of basketball. The fans are amazing and the way they support their teams is unbelievable." Lulei is not the first coach from China to see the competition this season. Guo Shiqiang, who coached the Chinese national team from 2008 to 2010, had a three-week stay in Malaga, Spain, where he was the guest of Turkish Airlines Euroleague club Unicaja.
Sunday, May 13, 19:40 CET
People from all over the world covering the Final Four
One of the most enjoyable parts of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four experience is getting a chance to meet members of the global basketball family. And this year in Istanbul, that family includes a reporter from the Central African Republic. Cyrille Ngario is an old friend of that country’s most popular athlete – and one its most popular people in general – Romain Sato of Panathinaikos. He has come all the way to Istanbul to follow’s Sato’s pursuit of a second Euroleague title and even though Panathinaikos lost in the semifinals, there is still plenty to report. “People are so hungry for information that we can prepare seven of eight articles a day!” Ngario said through an interpreter. There is no questioning Sato’s status as one of his country’s most beloved men. “He gets treated like the president pwhenever he comes to visit. Red carpet, security, everything.” And through Sato, the Turkish Airlines has grown exponentially in popularity. “We were introduced to the Euroleague through Romain Sato, but the people learned to love the Euroleague. It is the top in the world.” He said anyone who has cable television watches the games with a full house of fans. This is not so only for Sato’s teams – now Panathinaikos and formerly Montepaschi Siena, but for all the games. Ngario believes that Barcelona may be the next most popular team, in part due to center Boni Ndong of Senegal and in part due to the popularity of the club’s football section. He added that “basketball is by far the most popular sport in the country... Football is also popular, but nothing is like basketball.” The Euroleague is of course thrilled to learn of its popularity in Central African Republic and hopes to see Ngario at many more Final Fours in the future!
Sunday, May 13, 15:55 CET
More final predictions form the basketball world
Head coach Aito Garcia Reneses, 2008 Eurocup winner:
"CSKA is the favourite, but it also was the favourite against Panathinaikos and maybe that role has made it have more pressure. It will be even worse but if its players, which are very talented, can handle it well, CSKA will have most options to win. On the other hand and according to many, Olympiacos has arrived to Istanbul with less chances to win but ithas shown that it is a well-built team with a fighting mentality."
Dejan Tomasevic, 2007 Euroleague winner, 2003 Eurocup champion:
"As a former Panathinaikos player, I must admit I would have preferred to see my former team in the final, but CSKA has lived up to its favourite role since the beginning of the season. I think that CSKA has more options to win the title but I wouldn't be surprised it Olympiacos pulls another upset. Olympiacos has nothing to lose and a lot to win - and is a great advantage in a game like this."
Zoran Savic, European champ in 1990 and 1991 with Jugoplastika and 1998 with Kinder Bologna:
"According to logics, CSKA Moscow should be the champ. They have quality and Kirilenko, a determinant player who does more things than stats show. For instance, the last missed shot by Batiste in the semifinal was the consequence of the two blocks he had received in the two previous plays. He had to try it another way and he missed. On the other hand, Olympiacos already did a big thing by being in the final. If they can, at some point, copy Panathinaikos' style - who, in my opinion, deserved to win the first game - they will have their options.
Rafa Jofresa, European champ in 1994 with Joventut Badalona:
"CSKA Moscow is the favorite because they have a better team and more ways to win. On the other hand, Olympiacos only has one option: playing slow. CSKA has several advantages, especially under the rims and physically, they are in better shape. CSKA has a deeper bench, more great players that can read the game and also, of course, Kirilenko who, against Panathinaikos, showed his strong points. He managed to stay scoreless for 15 minutes, but after that he exploded."
Panagiotis Giannakis, European champ with Panathinaikos in 1996:
"For me it's a bit hard to make a prediction since I was Olympiacos' head coach not so long ago. But if I have to choose a favorite I'd say it's CSKA Moscow, because they have a deeper bench. But we will have to see how the players respond under pressure. I think that, until now, they have been having problems with that."
Sunday, May 13, 15:30 CET
Franco Casalini predicts the final
The 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four marks a special anniversary. This is the 25th Final Four since this format was adopted, bringing more excitement, drama and action. It was not the first-ever Euroleague Final Four - two were played in the 1960s - but the formar return in Ghent, Belgium, back in 1988. Philips Milano, led by Mike D'Antoni, Dino Meneghin and Bob McAdoo, managed to down Aris, featuring Nikos Galis and Panagiotis Giannakis, 87-82 in front of a very strong atmosphere. Once in the final - a rematch of 1987's title game - Milano beat Maccabi Elite 90-84 behind 25 points and 12 rebounds McAdoo, the first-ever Euroleague Final Four MVP. Euroleague.net had the chance to talk to Franco Casalini, who coached Milano to the 1988 title. "It was an incredible atmosphere just because it was the first Final Four and we were the defending champions. Everybody was waiting for the semifinal between us and Aris. The whole arena - a strange one en Ghent - was all yellow. Around 90% of the fans came from Greece to support Aris. It was a very good game and for the first time, at age 38, Dino Meneghin was playing small forward on defense! I remember a very exciting atmosphere, not only in that game, but because of the Final Four format. It was absolutely special," he remembers. Even when its three stars were in their very late 30s, age was not a problem for Milano to win. "When you play a single game, being very experienced is a plus. You know what to do, never get nervous and focus on the most important things. It is 40 minutes and you can rest on the bench - even when McAdoo and D'Antoni played for the entire game!," Casalini said with a smile in his face. Of course, the Final Four has become a world-class event and being a pioneer makes Casalini be proud of it. "It was difficult to think that could happen. As I told you, the aren in Ghent was a very particular arena, even when Belgium is a great country. Being in Istanbul, having the Awards Ceremony in this great palace, playing such a great place as Sinan Erdem in front of 15,000 people, with everything around the Final Four such as the Fan Zone or the Junior Tournament... is great! I was very difficult to picture all this back in 1988."
Sunday, May 13, 13:07 CET
Sunday title game: player predictions
Here we go! The day Turkish Airlines Euroleague players all hoped to take part in and that fans worldwide have been impatiently waiting for has arrived. But the question still on everyone’s lips is: who will win tonight, CSKA Moscow or Olympiacos? The Efes Pilsen Euroleague Awards Ceremony at Ciragan Palace on Saturday night offered up a chance to ask some of the best players for their thoughts on the title game. Euroleague.net’s Javier Gancedo spoke to talk to six members of the All-Euroleague team – the six that are not playing in the final – and asked for their predictions. Most of the players like CSKA, but there were some surprising exceptions. Here it is!
FC Barcelona Regal guard Juan Carlos Navarro:
"We were the favorite team against Olympiacos - and lost. CSKA may be the favorite against them, I believe, but Olympiacos has shown that it can play at this level and without feeling any pressure. I really believe they can pull the upset, so I think Olympiacos will win. Vassilis Spanoulis has all the numbers to become the Final Four MVP if Olympiacos wins. He can score and generates a lot for everyone. I was surprised on the way Georgios Printezis played against us - and they play as a team. But I have to give a name, it's Spanoulis."
FC Barcelona Regal forward Erazem Lorbek:
"In my opinion, I am going with CSKA, they are the favorites to win. They did what they had to do in the semifinals and proved great confidence and personality. They have a better chance. Their comeback against Panathinaikos gave them even more credit. If CSKA wins, it's obvious that Kirilenko will be MVP."
Panathinaikos center Mike Batiste:
"I don't know, it is really unpredictable! You have the best two teams fighting for the same thing - the Euroleague title. Both teams are equally matched and it goes down to who will play with more energy, determination and will. It is very, very tough, trust me. We know how Olympiacos plays and what they are capable of. They have a really good chance to do something special. CSKA has been playing the best basketball and it is going to be a great game."
Montepaschi Siena guard Bo McCalebb:
"It is tough, I really don't know - CSKA is a very good team and good at every position and experienced. Olympiacos is young and I saw what they can do against us, they knocked us out; they have a very good team. It can go either way, it is only one game. I would like Spanoulis to get the Final Four MVP."
Unics guard Henry Domercant:
"These are two good teams with a lot of talent, it is very difficult to predict. CSKA has proved to be a really strong defensive team and has a lot of size. If I had to choose, I would pick CSKA but Olympiacos is strong and are great competitors with a lot of heart. I expect a good, very hard match and will go down to the end of the game, but CSKA's size and defense will be the deciding factor. Kirilenko has been winning everything so far! I can't bet against him right now!
Panathinaikos guard Dimitris Diamantidis:
"A final is a final and I believe it is going to be a very close game. Both teams are very good and I expect to see a very good game. Since I am a Greek guy, I hope that Olympiacos gets the trophy."
Sunday, May 13, 10:45 CET
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