By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the win against Maccabi Rishon LeZion in Tuesday’s Winner League championship game, Giannis Sfairopoulos, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Deni Avdija shared their views on the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Apart from celebrating the 54th domestic championship in team history, they all secured individual awards as well.
“The entire season was difficult, not only this final,” the back-to-back Coach of the Year in Israel noted drawing the 2019-20 picture, “We played during the pandemic. These were not the conditions we expected. It was a crazy season, a crazy situation. Every team faced problems. It was not easy to convince the players that everything is safe and secure, they are human beings. We all were concerned something bad could happen, but luckily everything went well despite the injuries.”
“This was new for me too. It was my first time as a coach that I experienced such difficulties and issues,” he added, “They players stayed home for over two months. They went through mental stress and depression because we were all instructed to stay home in March and April.”
“Our initial focus was to start the match strongly and surprise our opponents,” he mentioned moving on to the final, “Our defense was instrumental to a great first half. We knew such a good team would respond. They play effective team basketball but we forced them to play one-on-one. That won us the game. Well done to the players, it was not easy.”
The Greek head coach won his fourth domestic championship. Apart from the recent two with the Yellows, he guided Olympiacos to the top of Greece’s Basket League in 2015 and 2016.
Stoudemire, 37, was clutch down the stretch of the championship game and earned the Final MVP award. He scored a team-high 18 points contributing seven rebounds as well.
“I really did not expect to win the MVP award,” he admitted, “I played my toughest and best but it was a great team game, everyone played well. We were prepared and I excelled. We remained focused in most stages of the season, some players trained hard during the isolation to be ready, and it paid off.”
“This was my 18th season as a professional basketball player,” he added, “I stay fit and train very hard to be ready at all times. When you do that, anything is possible. About the future, the future looks good right now but my priority is to celebrate.”