LIVE BLOG from Istanbul: Wednesday, May 17
Official Practices: Fenerbahce vs. Real Madrid
Tension was in the air on Thursday evening at the allotted time slot for Fenerbahce Istanbul to enter the Sinan Erdem Dome court with Real Madrid wrapping up its practice. It is customary for some players on each team that know each other to greet one another and exchange pleasantries, but that was not the case this time. The Fenerbahce players lingered near the hall leading to the court and remained by their bench until the Madrid players cleared the court. Many Madrid players gathered their belongings quickly and moved away from the Fenerbahce men when their floor time was over. The tension could prove to make this one of the most exciting semifinal duels in recent memory. It may be noteworthy that two of the players who seemed eager to extend their practice time were role players. Trey Thompkins was the last Madrid man still shooting, while Fenerbahce’s Anthony Bennett was the first Fenerbahce many to start warming up. Might they have relevant roles tomorrow?
Istanbul - Thursday, May 18, 22:45
Bogdanovic gets his trophy
Earlier Thursday, at the Opening Press Conference, Fenerbahce Istanbul head coach Zeljko Obradovic was asked about the greatest players he has ever coached and he responded by patting Bogdan Bogdanovic on the back. Later Thursday, Obradovic had the honor to formally present Bogdanovic with his trophy as EuroLeague MVP for April on the court at Sinan Erdem Dome before the team took the floor for their evening practice.
Istanbul - Thursday, May 18, 22:15
Official Practices: CSKA vs. Olympiacos
A CSKA vs. Olympiacos matchup at the Final Four brings with it a lot of history, which was apparent by the throngs of media that crammed the Sinan Erdem Dome court Thursday evening for the open media session between the two contenders’ practices. Cameramen lined the sides of the court to catch some of the shoot arounds, while reporters in in nearly a dozen different languages conversed with the players. One of the players the media paid close attention to was CSKA’s All-EuroLeague guard, Milos Teodosic, who has battled a heel injury recently. When asked if was ready for 40 minutes on Friday, Teodosic answered cleverly: "I never play 40 minutes anyway." For the core Olympiacos players, this marked the first time they had stood on the hardwood at the arena since raising the EuroLeague trophy in 2012. Accordingly, the player that generated the most attention was Georgios Printezis, who made the game-winner in that game. His teammate Vangelis Mantzaris summed up his feelings by explaining, "we have good memories and it is a good feeling to be back here. Some of us were kids when we first came here and now we are grown men."
Istanbul - Thursday, May 18, 19:31
Final Four begins with Opening Press Conference!
The first official act of the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four was the traditional Opening Press Conference, held at the magnificent Ciragan Palace. Among the legends and celebrities in attendance were Turkish Basketball federation president Hidayet Turkoglu, Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee Ilker Ayci and Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu, who each gave speeches before master of ceremonies Sukran Albayrak asked one question each to the coaches and players representing the Final Four teams. As usual, Fenerbahce Istanbul head coach Zeljko Obradovic stole the show, battling technical problems to dazzle the crowd with a couple of funny situations. When legendary sportswriter Vassilis Skountis - who has attended every Final Four since 1988 - asked him about which among the great players, active and retired, that he would have liked to coach, Obradovic tapped Bogdan Bogdanovic on the shoulder, and did not say a word, giving extra confidence to one of his stars. Israeli journalist David Pick asked if he practices with background noise to emulate the Final Four's playing conditions, Zeljko simply answered "secret - I can't talk!" and pointed to the other coaches and players around him. Asked about six previous losses against Fenerbahce, Real Madrid head coach Pablo Laso said "I don't care if I lose 20 times against one team, we will be thinking about winning that game, not about what happened before". Coach Laso later congratulated his point guard Sergio Llull for an answer with a knee slap and saying: "Very good, Sergio. Very good!"
Istanbul - Thursday, May 18, 14:02