By Bugra Uzar/ email@example.com
Anadolu Efes advanced to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four for the first time since 2000 but they had some ups and downs during the season. Eurohoops caught up with Efes big man Tibor Pleiss during the media day who explained ‘the process’ and made a reference to the Philadelphia 76ers and Joel Embiid:
“It always takes time. We had many new players come to the team. I was one of them and of course, it’s a process, it takes time to bring them together. If you see other teams like Madrid, they’re playing together for many years, Moscow the same and Fenerbahce too so, we are kind of a team who builds together totally anew and we made it. I could say like Embiid in the NBA: ‘Trust the process’. I mean, it worked, so we are here.”
They made it to the Final Four but are still considered the underdogs compared to regular participants as are Fenerbahce, CSKA and Real Madrid but Pleiss believes that just makes them more dangerous, takes off the pressure: “I can see that we are kind of the underdogs. The other teams are playing almost every year in the Final Four but I would say we have nothing to lose. We are going to have fun and fight, that’s what we did all season long. Nobody really expected us to come that far and we proved we can do it, so, we’re going there to give our best. We have some young, fresh legs in our team who can make the difference.”
He also commented on the incredible atmosphere which could be seen inside the club and from the fans: “I played here many times and I’ve never seen that kind of atmosphere in this arena. This year was something special. I have a feeling like here they had a plan from the beginning of the season to build a team with a chance to go to the Final Four. And we actually did it.”
Pleiss has changed a lot of teams and he had to change his playstyle accordingly. This time around, he got more freedom to shoot from deep and the big man has enjoyed it: “I was always a good shooter but every team wanted me to do something different. For example, last year Valencia had many shooters so I had to be more near the basket, to be a pick and roll player. This year, I just shot from the beginning and nobody said anything so I kept shooting and it worked. I always shoot a high percentage from outside but nobody really used that quality during the last few years. In Utah, they told me to shoot from outside and I was high percentage too. It always depends from year to year. In Vitoria, I was more under the basket but that has changed this year”, he explained.