By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Toronto’s vice president Maurizio Gherardini – in the photo seating together with Olympiacos GM Christos Stavropoulos – traveled to Italy and was present at the Cagliari tournament where Euroleague champions Olympiacos, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce/Ulker and Siena participated. Eurohoops.net could resist the chance to have a little chat with him and asked him about the return of Ettore Mesina and also his Euroleague and NBA predictions for next season.
- What’s your opinion about the return of coach Mesina in Europe and CSKA? What was his motivation to select Europe and not NBA with a better role in L.A?
“Ettore is one of the greatest coaches at a world level and he has the luxury to entertain the best options a coach can dream of. I think he had a great experience last year with the Lakers consulting for coach Brown but he wanted to be back to what he has being doing all his life: coaching a team. I think he considered all the available options, on either side of the ocean, and then decided to go back to a top European organization like Moscow”.
- Give me your predictions about the Euroleague this season! The most powerful candidates to qualify to London? And do you have an explanation for what happened in Euroleague Final last season?
“The Euroleague season is going to be very exciting with quite a few teams with “Final Four potential”. From what I watched at the event in Cagliari, MPS Siena and Fenerbahce Istanbul are legitimate contenders but Olympiakos and CSKA seem to have everything to repeat their trip to the Final Four. I was impressed by Olympiakos’ confidence and the way they are playing: I’m sure they will enjoy a good season. That being said I can see a few other teams who have similar potential and quality: Barcelona, Milan, Maccabi, Madrid and Efes and a few great outsiders like Baskonia, Khimki and Panathinaikos. It’s going to be interesting: a balanced tournament as we cannot rule out any “surprise” as well. Talking about last year, I thought it was a great tournament with one of the most emotional championship games of all times, a game fans will remember for ever……especially the Greek fans”.
- Finally, who is the favorite to win the NBA title and are the Lakers capable to do it after their trades?
“It will be a great NBA season: Miami remains the favorite team but the Lakers have all the basketball fans around the world dreaming as no one would have ever thought they could bring all those superstars together. Oklahoma City will be more mature and ready to go all the way and the “derby” in New York between Knicks and Nets will probably determine the other semifinalist team. Again, it will be an exciting year”.