Fans, the soul of the Final Four

May 12, 2012 by Print
Fans, the soul of the Final Four
Outside Sinan Erdem Arena before Friday’s semifinals of the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four, colors were abound. There was plenty of green, plenty of red and plenty of Barcelona’s famous mix of blue and garnet red. But far more impressive than the colors that could be seen was how beautiful they went together.

Such has been the atmosphere at this Final Four, where despite intense rivalries and fierce cheering and shouting during the game, off the court peace and harmony have prevailed. “Panathinaikos supporters are definitely the best ones here,” said Barcelona native Victor, who proudly wore a Gregor Fucka jersey as he took part in the festive pregame atmosphere outside Sinan Erdem Arena.

The Panathinaikos supporters can take pride in being the most vocal inside the arena, but it was the other camp of fans from Greece that left the games with the biggest smiles. For some, that may be a tougher pill to swallow than others. Iraklis and Irene live in a house that’s divided… Divided because Iraklis is a Panathinaikos fan and Irene is an Olympiacos fan. They travelled for their fourth Final Four together - following Athens, Berlin and Barcelona – with another couple, Greens supporters Magda and Alex. “Our team has won six Euroleague titles and we will be in seventh heaven on Sunday,” Magda predicted before the game.

And while Magda was sporting a Sarunas Jasikevicius jersey and Alex and Iraklis were displaying their green love of Panathinaikos, Irene was wearing a pink top. “I’m a Olympiacos supporter,” said Irene. Magda joked about Irene: “She’s the black sheep.”

When asked why she isn’t wearing red, Iraklis said: “She’s not allowed to.” Irene and Iraklis promised afterwards that there would not be any fighting Friday night.

Olympiacos fan Spyros from Piraeus has a team to root for in both semifinals. While his love for the Reds is obvious, he explained: “I am for CSKA Moscow because Milos Teodosic used to play for us.” It is unlikely, though, that he will feel the same way on Sunday.

Olympiacos fans at the 2012 Final FourA quartet of CSKA Moscow fans from Perm were busy making plenty of new international friends as they donned crazy headgear and carried CSKA flags. A couple from Izhevsk – the hometown of CSKA’s Andrei Kirilenko – said they were at their sixth Final Four following Prague, Athens, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. And of course their favorite player is naturally Kirilenko. And while the fans supported different teams, one thing was in common for all of them: they all had smiles on their faces.

Saturday gives fans of all four teams a chance to rest after the intensity of the semifinals. However that won’t mean that alongside visiting the sights of Istanbul, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four shouldn’t remain at the forefront. The Devotion Fan Zone at Taksim Square will be open from 10:00 to 22:00 so fans can still get their fix even during a rest day for the teams and players. Among the special activities planned for Saturday are a visit from former Euroleague champion Trajan Langdon, who played for both CSKA Moscow and local side Efes during his career; the 3x3 tournament, a handful of contests and performance and in the evening, a concert by Monopop.