COLOGNE – Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Since taking over at CSKA Moscow, Dimitris Itoudis has led his side to the Final Four in every Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, obviously except the 2019-20 season abandoned prior to the Final Four. The Russian powerhouse was hoping for a spot higher than fourth at Cologne, but the Greek mastermind remains optimistic after his most recent trip to the Final Four.
“It was not the best outcome for us. All four teams came here to first reach the Final and then capture the trophy,” he explained to Eurohoops, “It comes down to one game in the Final Four. The winner of our semifinal was determined by one or two shots we missed.”
“Competing for third place can’t be considered important, as mentioned by players and other coaches. There is no value for the winning side. But we are professionals and reacted accordingly,” mentioned the Greek boss, “I believe we started the game on the right track. However, we did not make our shots. We had a lot of turnovers in the second period and scored just 11 points.”
“In general, I feel we can keep some positives,” he added, “Obviously, the Final Four leaves us a bad taste. Everyone in CSKA wished to defend our title. We made a solid effort considering the issues faced during the season. We all did a good job.”
“We are disappointed we did not get a win, but accept our situation,” he explained further in the Final Four aftermath for his side, “Some teams will claim a win, one will take a couple of wins, and the other team will be left without a win. We have gone through all those circumstances. The point is to understand your situation. I believe we are able to comprehend what happened and become better for the next season.”
Itoudis, 50, approaches the end of one season as the signal to start the next. “I believe preparing for the next season starts now. Obviously, we are discussing next season with Andrey (Vatutin) and other team officials aiming to improve,” he explained.
“Our team has a present and a future,” he also pointed out, “That’s important.”
Adversity was a main theme of the 2020-21 EuroLeague campaign for CSKA. Plenty of injuries, forced midseason roster adjustments and more preventing the Army men from really getting on track.
“We had some issues this year. They haven’t been kept secret. But we never gave up. We never stopped defending our values,” said Itoudis, “Every team had problems through the season. We are not complaining. Every problem brings up the opportunity to evolve and for new experiences. All players and coaches live and learn through these experiences.”
The Final Four has been constantly featuring CSKA since 2013. Nevertheless, the Russian team would like the champion-crowning stage to be replaced by additional playoff rounds.
“We are in favor of replacing the Final Four with playoffs series,” confirmed Itoudis, “We have mentioned this before. We expect this to happen at some point.”
In conclusion, the CSKA head coach navigated through the mental aspect of regrouping after the Final Four.
“Everything is in our head. We are our own best ally or worst enemy,” he said, “Our mind knows our weaknesses, but our limits as well. If we can control our thoughts to the point that suits us, we can win. The better we train our minds, the more we can evolve as people, players, or coaches.”