"By the time you read these lines, I’ll be in Madrid!", he wrote on his blog. "It is really exciting to go to the Final Four. This is just my second Euroleague season and lot of people who play in the competition never make it to the Final Four, so this is great to be a part of it! It is amazing and I am very excited about it. It was one of goals we had and I know a lot of people will be watching the Final Four. I can't wait for it to start!
We will play against CSKA in the semifinals. We played them twice in the Top 16, but this is a whole different game. In general, the extra experience that we gained from last year helped us all season long. Me, Bryant [Dunston] and Matt [Lojeski] now have an extra year of Euroleague experience that I think shows on the court, especially on defense. We have been played this year and were able to win the games that we needed to. CSKA is a very tough opponent with many experienced players, so we are not expecting anything to go easy at all. We have to play with a lot of patience and see how it goes.
Every game is different, no matter who is playing or who is not playing. We were without Spanoulis when we played against CSKA in Moscow, but you never know how the ball is going to fall or if luck is going to go your way - luck helps a lot sometimes! Of course, with Billy in the game, that changed a lot. Spanoulis is one of the greatest players in the Euroleague for the last decade or so. We just want to start the game from our defense and play with a lot of energy; that is not going to change now. It is one game and you never know what is going to happen.
I wasn't with Olympiacos when they played against CSKA in the 2012 and 2013 Final Fours, but of course I watched those games and they can definitely be an inspiration for us. Our thing is that we are never going to give up, no matter how many points we are down. The most experienced guys in the team lead us when we get down, like in Game 3 of the playoffs against Barcelona, when we were down by 9 but ended up winning. We have to keep pushing no matter what happens; this is a one-game series and you don't have time to think you can do it tomorrow. You have to be ready right away!
We want it to be a physical game - that is our style. All Final Four teams have a good offensive game, but we have to make them do something different. They have a lot of big bodies as well, but if we can do that, not make it a run-and-gun game, we will have a better chance. The only pressure we have is, of course, from Olympiacos supporters. When you win two in a row like the team did, your fans always expect you to win. We like to be in this position of the underdog, because there is a little bit less pressure and it would be good to prove people wrong. At the beginning of the season, I don't think that a lot of people had us on the radar for going to the Final Four, but slowly saw we were pretty good. We want to stay in the position of underdog so that we can hunt people instead of being the hunted.
I think our coaches are planning to prepare for CSKA and nothing else. You cannot really prepare for somebody else knowing that if you lose, you are out of chances to go all the way. We have to win the first one and then we will see! None of the finalists will have a bunch of time to prepare that game, so we will just focus on the semifinal. Basically. we have to force our style, our pace and not let their scorers, Sonny Weems, Teodosic and De Colo, get a lot of easy buckets. We want to make everything as tough as possible and then try to run if we can - and if not, share the ball a lot on offense. If we can just keep our defense where we need to keep it, we will be OK, the game will be close in the end - and that is all you can hope for.
Don't miss the Final Four and support Olympiacos! Let's get it".