By Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
His… shot was a talking subject around Europe many days after Olympiacos’ big triumph in Istanbul. George Printezis sealed the Reds’ epic upset at Euroleague’s final against CSKA and from that day on he is the living example of the importance to rise each time you fall.
He changed from being insecure and feeling isolated in Malaga, to an explosive player who was a big part of his team road to success. His shot, at 0.7’’ to the end of last year’s Euroleague is a part of the history, but also is a moment will last forever. A moment that hundreds of young players wish they will live at one point, during their career.
The 27-year old player talked to eurohoops.net, few days before Olympiacos’ big –away- games against Anadolu Efes and Panathinaikos, almost about everything: about success, about failure, the great experience of being Unicaja’s player and how through tough moments he became the most… common basketball poster in Piraeus!
His thoughts about this season
“We have to remember only how we were able to reach Euroleague’s top and nothing else. It’s a new challenge and it will only be good for us to be ready from January and till the end. The guy who is responsible for our physical condition has played a huge part and like last year we will need few months to be where we need to be. It’s not just a matter of chemistry. There are some elements, like individual improvement and physical condition, which are very important”.
His feelings for last year’s buzzer beater
«I haven’t felt weird. I didn’t even when I made the shot against CSKA. It was a result of a team effort. The accomplishment of a goal we had as a team. I don’t like that everybody focused on this shot. If Papanikolaou didn’t score the free throws, if Hines didn’t play great defense, if Spanoulis didn’t make the drives, we wouldn’t be able to reach to the point of me scoring that shot”.
His memories of him getting the ball at Olympiacos’ last offense
“In these kinds of games, there is so much tension that you don’t have the luxury to think much. Everything happens in few tenths of a second. I had worked so hard on shots like that one and that’s why I was able to react in the appropriate way, moreover to score. Only when Siskauskas lost the second free throw, I realized that we just need to score and we would be the champions. I was thinking “ok, lets get the rebound and… we will see from there what will happen”.
His memories of being an outsider at Malaga
“Whatever won’t kill you makes you stronger. I can speak for hours about those days. At one point I was playing for only few minutes and few days later I wasn’t stepping on the court even for one second. It was a bad situation. It’s from the kind of experiences you can have and either being stubborn and work even harder or being incompetent to handle the hall situation and fall apart, thinking that you approach to an early retirement. It was like I was loosing sight, like I was loosing the earth beneath my feet. I know I might sound like picturesque, even more now that there are millions of families they can afford to buy something to eat, but you have to remember every person is going through many challenges, whatever his work is. Those moments were so cruel for me and I decided to keep my head down and work harder than ever. Maybe I did that to show them what they were missing. And the more they showed me the way out, the more effort I put on my work. I wanted them to have me in front of their faces all day long. I remember me training for 7-8 hours each day, for the two months I was out of the team. It was something I was doing deliberately. I was waiting for a chance from Malaga or any other team. And that team was Olympiacos”
What went wrong?
“It really makes me sad. Unicaja is a huge club, with a great program and much money. One from Europe’s very few with 11.500 season tickets, if I’m not wrong. They could be even if not at the Final Four at the end of each season, for sure among 8 best teams and compete for the title. Instead of that, we see they don’t get where they can be. I don’t think I did anything wrong, since it’s only normal for a player to have few bad games. The important is for them to know what they can expect from you. I was never the player who will score 15-20 points, every night. When somebody signs for big money, it doesn’t mean that he has to score a certain number of points or to grab a certain number of rebounds, in every game. All players find their rhythm and through that their way to offer what their team needs. But at Malaga, there are those kinds of requirements, which make you feel anxiety, make you feel nervous and under big stress. A lot of players have gone through what I had to deal with. Who got stress and that was when they started to pay attention on their own stats. When I was over there, we had that and it was something that in my opinion started from the administration. They were the ones who passed their demands for certain numbers to the team and to the players. If I know something, is when you are happy, everybody is close to you. But when you have a problem, they all disappear. So, the only way you have to move on is to fight, to keep trying even harder and this is the only way to gain things. This is a general rule of life, not only if you are a basketball player”.
Is there anybody who wants to thank
“If I have to point out one person, who really helped me, that would be Vaggelis Aggelou. The man believed in me, he supported me and work hard with me, as he was trying to get me back to Olympiacos, when I was living the worst days of my career. When you are not in the problem, you can say many things. But there is always a different way for anyone to handle their own situations. The truth is if I could turn back time, I would choose again what I chose in 2009. Everything happens for a reason. In my heart I knew I would return to Olympiacos, but not so quickly. As I can see now, everything happened… for my best interest”!
Which team is the favorite for the Greek league?
“It’s still early to say. Panathinaikos has a good team. To tell you a brute truth, the Greens start on better terms than we did last season. If they achieve to find their chemistry and to play like their coach want them to play, maybe they will be the favorites. And I’m not a defeatist by saying that. The mentality of the journalists and the fans who are watching us this season, is no the best. You cannot expect everything from us, to defeat all the other teams by 15 points. There will be tough nights, even bad results and maybe sooner than we think. But through defeats you can be better. Do you remember how many games we lost last year? You have to remember that we are getting ready not only for Anadolu Efes and Panathinaikos, but for the hall season”
What is he going to say to Shortsianitis?
“I know him for many years, from when he was 14-year old. I am really glad I see him playing good even if he is an opponent now. He is a big chapter not only for Panathinaikos’ but for the Greek Basketball. My wish is to be healthy and to play the best he can, as long as we are the winners! When you are on the court, you are not friends with anybody is not in your team. Outside the court, we have to say so many things”.
The biggest profit
“Last year belongs to the past. And frankly to my eyes wasn’t something THAT big. For sure it was a success which we all enjoyed and my most strong feeling is we won and we gave joy to our fans. The important is through last season many people understood that points are not the only important element. There are so many things you can do, to help. And now our fans can see that. That’s why I’ saying the only thing left from our success last year was the joy we gave to our fans, a joy they were waiting for so long to feel”