By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
The Russian squad was in control with three minutes to go in the 2015 semifinal, until a barrage of jump shots from all range and of all sorts of difficulty by Vassilis Spanoulis changed the tide and decided the outcome in favor of the Reds.
But now, Jackson hopes he and his teammates can put a stop to the “Olympiacos jinx” that has hurt CSKA in three previous Final Four tournaments and silence Spanoulis through the appropriate teammwork.
“I don’t think one person can stop him,” Jackson told Eurohoops. “He’s that kind of talent. Hopefully we have come to a point where we can understand that we have to guard him collectivelly.”
“Hopefully we can stop this… ‘Fucking Spanoulis’ thing”, he added. “He always does his thing and he always gets you upset.”
When I reminded him that notorious quote he dropped during an interview with Grantland (RIP) to characterize the Greek guard’s epics, he threw a smile. But things weren’t particularly jolly two years ago in Madrid.
“The last Final Four game against Olympiacos didn’t go well, true. Heck… my first Final Four (2014) hadn’t gone well either,” remembered the American guard. “But we believe we can change this. We can change it and have a different outcome this time. Knock them out the same times they’ve knocked us out.”
After four consecutive failed attempts, CSKA finally found its way to the throne of EuroLeague last year, winning the franchise’s seventh continental trophy.
While popular belief dictates that it’s harder to defend your spoils, in our case the EuroLeague title, than earning them, Jackson holds a different opinion.
“It took me three losses in a row to get one (EuroLeague title). So… no. I don’t agree with that statement. You got to understand that every Final Four is difficult. A whole weekend where you should be undefeated for two games. It doesn’t matter who or which team plays.”
Does Aaron Jackson feel like a Final Four veteran now? “Actually I feel like it’s my first time. And it is my first time when I’m trying to figure out everything from winning last year. One thing is for sure. That I’m grateful to be here. For this great opportunity to do exactly what we did last year.”