By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Vasilis Spanoulis was the face of last season’s unpredictable Olympiacos’ Euroleague run and he has the experience to understand that this year will be even harder for the Reds. They are Euroleague champions and everyone will want to beat them!
The Greek guard and also MVP of two Euroleague Final Fours (2009, 2012) accepts the challenge and talks about it to Eurohoops.net: “No matter what happened last season, we are still a very young team, still on square one! I don’t see anybody in our roster who isn’t hungry, or still thinks about last season’s success. That would be dangerous, it would cost us. However, what happened wasn’t something usual, to create a new team and imitatively win big, specially the way we did it”.
The mentality of Olympiacos will remain the same, according to its leader: “We just want to enjoy basketball! We like playing together, we want to win, but as we were saying last season, our first goal should be to enjoy what we are doing and have a positive outlook. We were the underdogs from the start till the end of the season. Now, we are the champions and everyone will have an extra motivation against us, but we don’t have any reason to change our mentality. We will always enjoying the games and we will try to give our maximum”.
Spanoulis isn’t shy about pointing the Euroleague favorites: “It was proven last season that it’s just theory, while history is made only on the court. If I have to pick some title contenders, then CSKA Moscow and the two Spanish teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have good chances. They are teams of elite level, they have quality pieces and the same core. However, I would like to see everybody on the court and then judge their chances”.
That’s why Spanoulis is still cautious about what the Turkish teams can achieve: “I didn’t mention Efes and Fener, because I want to see them playing and then have an opinion. They both changed their coaches and now have great bench leaders. They have made big transfers, they have big name players and the question about them is their chemistry and also being on their top form the right moment of the season”.
What is the opinion of Euroleague MVP for the new format of the competitions: “There will be fierce competition. There are many good teams, there will be big battles on the court and we will have 14 games in the Top 16! I believe that being mentally tough will play a pivotal role for every team. Maybe the teams without big domestic competition will be benefited by the new format”.
Istanbul’s Final Four and the miracle win of Olympiaocs in the final is now a part of history. However, Spanoulis, the main protagonist of the upset against CSKA, still hasn’t fully realized what exactly happened: “Honestly, I try not to think about it. A lot of people considers what happened the biggest upset in European basketball history, not only in the recent Euroleague history. When I retire and I leave behind me the pressure of playing basketball in the highest level, I will have the luxury to think about it a bit more and then I will realize what exactly happened in Euroleague last season. From the start to the end of it”.