By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
The first part of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four opening press conference centered on the semifinal clash of Anadolu Efes and CSKA Moscow. Recently-crowned season MVP Vasilije Micic accompanied by the Turkish side’s head coach Ergin Ataman discussed Friday’s game with the Russian outlet represented by Dimitris Itoudis and Will Clyburn.
“That game in Moscow was very important,” mentioned Micic recalling the loss in Moscow earlier in the 2020-21 campaign, “After that match, we had a meeting, we realized we are the same team from the previous three years and that we should not doubt ourselves. I am thankful that we lost that game.”
CSKA going through adversity clinched yet another Final Four berth making Itoudis proud of the achievement.
“It was a challenging season for all of us due to the pandemic restrictions, injuries, and everything,” stressed the Greek boss, “But as I said to my players, when you made it happen you are always going to remember with fondness those memories of showing the hardship and we showed a lot of hardship this year.”
Similar issues presented themselves for Efes as well with Ataman confidently guiding his players back to the championship stage of Europe’s premier club continental competition.
“Fans enjoy our offensive basketball but I don’t know if it will be enough to win the EuroLeague because we will face CSKA with great players and a great coach in the semifinals,” he said, “I hope that fans will enjoy this Final Four. I hope in the future we will play with more surrounding emotions. Basketball is not only money, budgets, it is also enjoying the games.”
“We wanted to finish the last season on the court. We don’t know if we would win the championship but we played great basketball in the Regular Season,” he added recalling the cancellation of the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, “Last season is over, this is a new season.”
“When you want to build something special in basketball, the more same guys you keep with you, it’s always helpful,” admitted Clyburn regarding the limiting adjustments made on the Turkish powerhouse compared to the previous season cut short, “At the same time, tomorrow is just one game. The better team on that day wins. They are a great time. They have spent time together, so you can’t expect anything less.”