By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The captain of Olympiacos among other things is the holder of an impressive record. He is been in three Euroleague final fours, he won all six games, three titles and three MVP awards!
Before him a legend named Sarunas Jasikevicius had until the semifinal of 2012 in Istanbul, as member of Panathinaikos, four final four titles and eight wins in eight games with Barcelona (2003), Maccabi T.A. (2004, 2005) and Panathinaikos (2009).
The challenge is more than great for the fourth Euroleague title of Olympiacos, which is going to be also the fourth personal Euroleague title for unbeaten so far Spanoulis. We talked with him just before his fourth Final Four starting from his big decision at the summer of 2010 to leave Panathinaikos for the Reds.
As he admitted: “I didn’t expected us to win two Euroleague titles. I want to be honest. If you think about what we have achieved and the conditions we did achieve them, this team has made the impossible. We made it possible. In recent years we don’t have the biggest bugdets against teams which are spending more and more, bringing more quality in their rosters. Everything we have achieved is a testament to our chemistry and our character. I believe that everything changed in Istanbul. Olympiacos was hunting a second Euroleague title for 15 years. After this night, the mentality of everyone changed. Maybe now we are just entered the best part of this team’s history”.
After too many years, when Spanoulis is on the court, we see defenses focusing only on him. Does that flatters him? “What I feel when I am on the court is that I am always a target for the defenders. However without my coaches and my teammates, I wouldn’t have achieved nothing. When I am healthy, I feel great and I have real confidence”.
Leo Messi “killed” Bayern in their Champions League game and became a headline, because his wife is pregnant. Spanoulis has something to say about that: “(Laughs) I don’t want to get into that territory, because if we don’t get the results, I will dissapoint my unborn yet daughter. I am just wishing that my family stays healthy, because they are a big part in my success all those years. They bring me calm and happiness that I really need”. Just for the record, Spanoulis has already three boys, the year they were born he had won the Euroleague and now his wife is pregant with his daughter.
We saved for last his position on the debate between FIBA and Euroleague. Spanoulis has already missed due to injuries two national teams tournaments in his career, playing practically for 11 months every years has taken a toll on his body, so his opinion matters: “We are not robots. We see how many injuries happen during the last years and that’s just not good for the sport. The fans want to see their national teams with all of their stars on the court. When there are players missing due to injuries, or they want to take the summer off, or they are there, but dead tired, the fans are not getting the spectacle they expected.
However is taking decision in FIBA has to think first of all the sport as a product. And that means the players who are essentially the product. FIBA should protect the players in order for them to be healthy and play for their national teams.
We are not machines, we are men. The most important for us is to be healthy and to feel good. To have the energy needed and the mood to play for our national teams. That’s how the FIBA tournaments will be more exciting for the fans”.