Final Four Press Conference

Jan 10, 2008 by Print
Final Four Press Conference
The Head Coaches

CSKA Moscow head coach Ettore Messina

“Good morning. I could talk for three hours about my first year in Moscow, but I don't think you would like to listen to me all that time. There is the basic stuff, like it's a cold town, but I can tell you it has been a very interesting adjustment. It has been a meeting of different players with different mentalities, a mixture of international and Russian mentalities. The most important thing is that all of us, the players, the coaches and the CSKA management, made a step forward to understand each other. If everyone had stuck to his personal way of seeing things, maybe we would not be here today. But it is great, in basketball as in the rest of life, to step forward to make and understanding. Only in that way you can enjoy great success. I am thankful to my players and the CSKA management, because it has not been an easy season, especially with the injury to our player David Andersen. But now we are here to see if we can make it to the next step."

"For me, what happened before with CSKA is not more pressure, because this is my first season in Moscow. This has been a marvelous year, and I hope we can keep having success for this year and years to come. I think the players should look ahead and not think about what happened in previous years."

Winterthur FC Barcelona head coach Dusko Ivanovic

"Good morning. I am very happy to be here. I am sure that for us and the other teams, it has been very difficult to reach the Final Four. In my opinion, this has been the most even and competitive season since the Euroleague started. For that reason, all the teams here deserve this. To win a Euroleague title would be a success for any player or coach. All of us here have the same ambition. I think all these teams have the same possibilities, too. It will depend on how we prepare, each of us, to take advantage of this opportunity. Right now, our objective is the same as always, just to win the next game."

"If Andersen's injury had happened just before the playoffs or the Final Four, it would have had an effect on CSKA. But he was injured in January, and since then CSKA has been able to put together almost another way of playing, more collective, and in my opinion even more dangerous than they were with Andersen. So if you ask me today, I would prefer that they were playing with Andersen."

Tau Ceramica head coach Velimir Perasovic

"Good morning. I think the opportunity that Tau game me to coach this team is what allowed me to get to the Final Four. The first step is just being with a team like Tau. The second step is working hard every day throughout the season to reach this point and make it here. And the next step, the biggest and most important one, is to see if we can win the semifinal and make it to the final."

"I do not think the crowd is such an important factor. Tau has passed the barriers to becoming a major club a long time ago and made a team much bigger than anyone would expect from a small place like Vitoria. This is another challenge, to bring the Euroleague trophy to Vitoria. I think 1,500 from such a small place as Vitoria can weigh more than 10,000 from Tel Aviv."

"Maccabi has so many important players, that to single out one would be an error. They of course play around Parker, Solomon and Vujcic, plus have other players like Jamie Arnold who can be very important. Our Spanish League losses hurt us, but for this Final Four, I don't think they will have any effect. People come here with another mentality."

Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Pini Gershon

"Good morning. We have had a tough season, harder than the previous two when we took the championship. But we come here as defending champion, and that's an exciting feeling. Even though this season has be tough for us, harder than any other, we're in the Final Four and just to have the feeling of being here is very nice. I know that everyone up here at this table has a special reason to try to take the cup. I just want to welcome Mr. Messina. I have already changed my name to Gershonovic, so I wonder if he will now change his to Messinavic. We come as defending champs, as I said, knowing it will not be easy. We first have to make the final, and have a tough team to try to beat in order to do that. It won't be easy. I hope everybody can enjoy the weekend, enjoy every minute and hour they spend here, because it's so nice, you won't ever forget it."

"I believe when we have a jump ball and the game is a few minutes old, it's in the players' hands. We help them, but the coach's experience is not enough. I know we have three other excellent coaches here, and some have won titles as players and know the feeling of taking titles. So I think that this Final Four will maybe be tougher than ever."

"This is not our Final Four with almost 10,000 people behind us. In one way it can help us, and in another it can put pressure on us. The last couple times, we took the European championship, so we hope it will help us. But first you have to be in the final to win the title."

The Players

CSKA Moscow guard Theo Papaloukas

“First of all, I am really happy to be here for the fourth time in a row. It's a very big experience just being here four times. I am visiting the most beautiful cities in Europe - Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Moscow and now Prague - thanks to the Euroleague. And of course, next year, I hope to go to Athens, to my home. I think our team must use the experience from the other Final Fours this weekend, along with the help of our coach's knowledge from his own experience of winning the Euroleague some years ago. It's another chance we have to play really hard in order to do our best in the semifinal and try to get to the final. This is a celebration of basketball. There are people here from all over Europe, including people I see here today from Greece, even though there are no Greek teams. It's important for me that basketball in Greece is becoming popular again. For this weekend, I hope that this is the right moment for my team and that all the players go home without injuries."

"I think it's very important for one player to live what I have lived, winning a gold medal at the European Championships with my country. For me, it is also very important the chance to win the Euroleague title with CSKA. I have spent four years of my life, and the most important years of my career until now, with CSKA. I want to win this for myself, but also for the fans and the people who work with the team and who have helped me all these years. So it is most important that we come here and do our best."

Winterthur FC Barcelona guard Juan Carlos Navarro

"Good afternoon to everyone. I am pleased to be here again. Having won once as the home team in Barcelona, this time I want us to play just as strong away from home. The truth is that this year I feel very comfortable with everything. I am playing a lot of minutes and am happy. But in the end, if the team doesn't win titles, the good season of one player doesn't count for much. Titles are what we look for and work for from the start. It's not easy to get to the Final Four, so now that we are here, we have to try to take advantage of the opportunity to try to win the Euroleague. I will try to fill the same role as I have all year. I feel I am playing a more important part in Barcelona each season. But in the end, I prefer to play bad and have my team win. That's what is important. People won't remember one player, but the team that won it all."

"No, I don't think Barcelona is the favorite, but I think the other teams have to respect us, just as we respect them. We are playing to win, and at Barcelona, the fact of winning the last time gives us a calmer approach after so many years that the club tried to win and didn't. We have that pressure off our back now, and we're coming here in good shape. Any of these teams can win two games in a row. We aren't favorites, but we have the highest expectations and ambitions. Like everyone, however, we have to get through the first game, which will be hard."

"I only wish it could be an all-Spanish final because that means we would be there. We play against CSKA, a team with great, experienced playoffs, and that will be very difficult. The little details will make the difference, I am sure, but right now I don't think beyond the semifinal."

Tau Ceramica forward Luis Scola

"Hello everybody. I am happy to be back at the Final Four. For our team, it's a great situation to be here a second time in a row. Vitoria is a small city, but Tau has grown up, year after year, to become a major team, better every year. Last year, unfortunately, we could only finish second. So I hope this can be our year, improving on what we did last year, to win the European championship."

"I think that, just like all players and coaches, (Perasovic and Ivanovic) are different, so this season has been different without Dusko. They are two different people and coaches, but both have the winning mentality that all players need to have transmitted to us by our coaches to get out there and fight our best. They both have that, and both have been very import for us, and it's a big reason we're back here for second time. I think working hard is the only way to success, not one way or the best way, but the only way. If you want to be good, you've got to work harder than everyone else. Everyone can shoot, run and jump. There's a lot of talent around the world. What makes the difference is working harder. It's the only way to become a good player, win titles and be somebody in Europe or wherever you play. So it's not a bad thing to have a coach who pushes hard. I am thankful for all the coaches I have had who have pushed me hard."

"It might be a short time until the end of the semifinals, but for a player it's an eternity. There are 40 minutes to play against Maccabi and lot of hard work before we get to the final. It's a little dangerous to even think of the final when we haven't started toplay against Maccabi. If we reach the final, it wouldn't matter who the opponent is. I want to play and win it and who we would play against doesn't matter."

Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Anthony Parker

"I think the most important thing for every team and their representatives sitting up here today is first to have qualified for this Final Four. That's the first goal. Only after Friday's semifinals, if we win, can we think about preparing and speaking about winning the Final Four for a third time. I feel all the teams here are kind of in the same position. I don't feel we have an advantage over any team. These teams all have experienced players and coaches. I am looking forward to a great weekend, not just on the court, but enjoying the great atmosphere and environment around this event. This is the biggest stage in European basketball and I am proud to be a part of it."