LIVE BLOG from Istanbul: Wednesday, May 17
LIVE BLOG from Istanbul: Thursday, May 18
LIVE BLOG from Istanbul: Friday, May 19
Fenerbahce, Olympiacos meet the press one more time
Just as expected, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game media availability was the most crowded one this weekend, with a large number of reporters and photographer getting the access they wanted to the Fenerbahce Istanbul and Olympiacos Piraeus stars. When it comes to Olympiacos, the most-wanted player was, as always, three-time Final Four MVP Vassilis Spanoulis. "We have to be ready and concentrated for the final. I think we need to be calm and control our emotions, control the rhythm of the game and do the small things that are necessary to win this game," Spanoulis said. "It is one game for a big title. We went down a long road until this game, so it is important to be focused in the last game," he added. Center Patric Young spoke about the noise level at Sinan Erdem Dome. "It’s so loud [here] sometimes that maybe you’re trying to communicate a play or what we’re running on pick-and-roll defense and you’re screaming at the top of your lungs, but the guard can’t hear you," Young said. As for Fenerbahce, forward Luigi Datome hopes his team's experience from last season is a big help this time around. "We have to be focused on our game plan and play hard, helping each other like we did yesterday. Olympiacos is a very good team and we have to be very focused on them, but also on ourselves," Datome said. "Small details are very important, absolutely," he added. ""We learned that we have to be more focused and less nervous than last season; that's it," All-Euroleague guard Bogdan Bogdanovic said. "Small details are important but again, more focused, less nervous," he told us. There was no time for jokes, salutes or even smiles; you can tell that both Olympiacos and Fenerbahce are fully focused on what matters most: attaining a win at the game.
Saturday, May 20, 19:35
Samanic wins slam dunk contest
Luka Samanic of U18 FC Barcelona Lassa was crowned champion of slam dunk contest at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague FanZone. Samanic prevailed through two rounds of dunks, which were adjudged by EuroLeague legends Matjaz Smodis, Michalis Kakiouzis, Ermal Kuqo and Nikola Vujcic. One of the 17-year-old’s top dunks came after he put the ball through his legs in the air before hammering it home. Players from six of the eight teams in the EuroLeague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT participated - with U18 CFBB Paris and U18 Mega Bemax Belgrade electing to have their players rest ahead of the ANGT Championship Game. Samanic advanced to the finals along with Grantas Vasiliauskas from U18 Zalgiris Kaunas and Mert Halavurte of U18 Fenerbahce Istanbul, who finished second and third respectively. While Halavurte jumped over the dunk contest’s public announcer as one of his dunks, Vasiliauskas leapt over his U18 Zalgiris teammates Marius Valinskas and Rokas Jokubaitis, who came to the FanZone to watch Vasiliauskas in action.
Saturday, May 20, 19:15
Up next: EuroLeague Awards Ceremony!
The biggest and best individual award on the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season will be handed out tonight when the extended Euroleague Basketball family assembles for the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Awards Ceremony Gala Dinner. The stars of the competition, Euroleague Basketball Legends, partners, celebrities and friends and family and more are expected at the majestic Ciragan Palace on the Asian side of Istanbul for what promises to be a one-of-a-kind event, during which the identity of the 2016-17 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague MVP will be revealed! All of the All-EuroLeague First Team as well as all but one other award winner will take the stage to formally receive their trophies and honor the soon-to-be-named MVP. If you were unable to snag an invite, don’t worry; you can follow all the action on Euroleague.net!
Saturday, May 20, 18:50
Media, Platinum games rock Sinan Erdem
A Final Four tradition, the adidas EuroLeague Media Game was as fun as everybody expected. Media White, coached by Panagiotis Giannakis, featured a couple of retired EuroLeague greats, Mirsad Turkcan and Ermal Kuqo Nikola Vujcic and Media Blue, coached by Matjaz Smodis, was helped by Nikola Vujcic and Michalis Kakiouzis. Kuqo and Konstantinos Meliages shined early to give White a 12-7 lead. Lucas Saez-Bravo and Nikola Loncar - a former EuroLeague champion with Partizan Belgrade in 1992 who now works for Movistar Plus - traded baskets and a couple of layups by Kuqo helped the Whites to an 18-12, at the end of the first half. The Blues regrouped and a layup by Stavros Barbarousis gave his team the lead, 18-20. David Pick took over with a coast-to-coast layup and Kuqo scored again for a 22-20 White edge. Loncar and Turkcan nailed back-to-back three-pointers, but Vujcic brought the Blues within 28-25. Amaya Valdemoro joined the three-point shootout, but Kakiouzis brought the Blues even closer, 32-31, with five minutes left. Thanassis Asproulias finally gave the Blues the lead, 32-33, but Valdemoro had 5 points in 7-0 run that won it for the Whites; Smodis's timeout at 39-33 with 2.2 seconds left was maybe too little, too late! Loncar led the winners with 11 points and 9 rebounds and Kuqo had 10 for the Whites. Vujcic led the Blues with 9 points. Before that, the Euroleague Basketball Platinum & Legends Game was highly entertaining, too. Platinum Red thrashed Platinum White 25-47 after leading 8-24 at halftime. Artur Kosuth was the best player on the floor, leading the winners with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 8 steals. Kuqo played all 30 minutes for the Reds and led his team with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Saturday, May 20, 13:50
It’s all business at Saturday press conference
Some of the heroes of Friday night’s semifinals games were back at Sinan Erdem Dome early on Saturday for a press conference to discuss tomorrow’s championship game and the atmosphere surrounding can be described as businesslike. While there were some laughs, the two players on hand – Gerogios Printezis of Olympiacos Piraeus and Ekpe Udoh of Fenerbahce Istanbul – made it clear that this is not the time to celebrate; that will only come for one of them after the title game. Aside from a joking remark Olympiacos coach Giannis Sfairopolus made when asked about tactics, to which he responded that he could not answer because of his counterpart’s presence, the question-and-answer session was rather serious and dealt with the coaches’ pasts, Olympiacos’s previous wins, lessons learned from this season and more. However, the most important message of the day was delivered by Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic to his team’s fans, whose raucous support played a role in the semifinals: "I really want to say something that I believe it is very important. The Final Four is in Istanbul and I know we will have a lot of fans in the gym. I really want to ask them to obviously help the team, my team, Fenerbahce, their team, but to be really correct with Olympiacos and especially its fans, not only tomorrow at the gym, but today, everywhere in the streets. To give hospitality for people from Greece and everything is about a basketball game. I believe this is very important and I want to ask Fenerbahce fans to respect Olympiacos and its fans."
Saturday, May 20, 12:35