Who better than coaches who have won the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title to give us an idea of what might happen in Sunday's championship game between Anadolu Efes Istanbul and CSKA Moscow? EuroLeague.net asked two such former champions who witnessed the semifinals live in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Friday, Dusan Ivkovic and Xavi Pascual, to analyze the title game. Ivkovic, a two-time champion with Olympiacos Piraeus, in 1997 and 2012, and Pascual, who won with FC Barcelona in 2010, also served on Saturday as guest coaches in games played at Fernando Buesa Arena between teams of media, VIPs and Final Four ambassadors.
"As always, people said that each team had a 25% chance to win the Final Four, but tactically, there were some surprises in the semifinals. CSKA used its experience in the final minutes to beat Real, which absolutely controlled the game until then. On the other side, Fenerbahce had a lot of injury troubles. It is an experienced team with many Final Four appearances and a championship, but Anadolu Efes absolutely deserved to win and it was the biggest surprise until now. It is playing at a higher level than anyone.
"If the question is who will win the final, we will have two very different teams. Efes is in the final for the first time and in the Final Four after a long, long time. CSKA, a more experienced team, made some good changes to its roster and has been playing well together. Efes has the best tandem of guards, which is very important in modern basketball. I think we can expect a very, very close game between two absolutely different teams. I cannot even tell who is the favorite. It will be a close game where CSKA's defensive philosophy, switching with [Kyle] Hines, can make the difference. Its stars looked tired but you saw what happened in the semifinal. It looked like Real had full control of the game and when they gave CSKA an opportunity, it won the game."
"It is very difficult to predict this game. I said before the Final Four that I believe that Efes is the team that arrives to this event closest to its highest level possible, to its 100%. At the same time, after its semifinal win, CSKA will take a step further in this game, feeling more confident at making decisions. That will allow CSKA to play well in this final.
"We have to see the strategy that both teams will follow. CSKA has to stop Efes's creation through [Vasilije] Micic and [Shane] Larkin, what they decide to do against them, and what other things happen during the game. To find other options during the game will be very important in Efes's game plan. Both teams are similar when it comes to offensive creation from pick-and-roll. We have to see which defensive options Efes proposes against [Sergio] Rodriguez, [Nando] De Colo and [Cory] Higgins. I believe it will be an attractive, fun-to-watch game. Even when it is a final, I expect a high-scoring game – and a very balanced one."