By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four opening press conference separated into two sessions due to health and safety protocols saw FC Barcelona’s Nikola Mirotic and Sarunas Jasikevicius, and AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milano’s Sergio Rodriguez and Ettore Messina following in the footsteps of their Anadolu Efes and CSKA Moscow counterparts in previewing their semifinal tilt. The game will be held tomorrow, Friday, at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.
“I feel blessed to be here,” said Mirotic, “My biggest goal coming here was to win the EuroLeague title. I am sitting here with people that have won many, I feel it should be my time also. I don’t want to add pressure on myself but to the best to help my team succeed. I am very motivated to be here.”
“I didn’t lose anything, I am right where I want to be, represent Barcelona and play in the Final Four,” he added replying to a question on Vasilije Micic winning the race for the season MVP award, “It would be nice to be the MVP, maybe for a few seconds. Nobody remembers those individual awards. They remember the team titles.”
Jasikevicius is among the players having captured the EuroLeague title with three different teams. Rodriguez and teammate Kyle Hines are a couple of wins from joining the narrow list but have to get past the team led by the Lithuanian mastermind.
“It’s great to have this opportunity being here representing Milano and having the chance to compete for a third title with a different team,” mentioned El Chacho, “I would ask Saras for advice but he would probably feed me wrong information. I was always looking up to him growing up.”
Back to the Spanish powerhouse, Jasikevicius using his own experience revealed the areas his players should focus on to tackle Olimpia Milano.
“When you have pressure, you have to be able to deal with it when you are playing for the clubs that compete in the Final Four. When you have some nerves, you have to concentrate on the things you can control, defense, and the little things,” he said, “That’s the most important at this stage.”
“For us, it is an amazing joy,” said Messina regarding his team returning to the Final Four after 29 years, “As for Italian basketball, we are like most countries in Europe. Your fans are very happy when you win and the others will be very happy when you lose. Some people will be rooting for us and others won’t, just like in life.”