"It is very nice here, I have visited resorts twice in my life and having the chance to be here, at Costa Navarino, is great. It is an excellent experience. It is a marvelous place, where you can relax, with very nice halls. People visit it with their families, the kids are enjoying it by watching the famous players they have seen on Tv and that makes us extremely happy.
Maybe our pre-season should be taking place here, if I was in charge I would prefer it than Karpenisi. There is everything here, you can relax. Nice indoors gym, good training ground. A very good chance to have fun. When I was a kid, we did not have such things. So, no I am kind of jealous. There is a swimming pool and many interesting activities, my daughter enjoys it. Every night she is amazingly tired.
If someone would tell me 10 years ago that I would be here, I would not had believed him. I am very happy for having the chance to travel, play basketball, do what I love and having my family with me, to share these experiences. I made some dunks yesterday for the kids and they really liked it, everybody is having fun here.
I am still here because they told me one month ago that they want me to be in this camp, while my daughter is still going to school, so I had to stay here for another two weeks to wait her. I am usually going home at June 26, now I will go five days later, the difference is not important.
This is my fourth season in Greece and this is one of the best places I have ever visited. Why be anywhere else. Nice weather, nice people, food, basketball. It is an excellent country. Many islands and resorts like that. So, things are really nice. I have another year of contract with Panathinaikos and I can't wait for the next season, I can't wait!
Panathinaikos is the first club in which I have stayed for consecutive seasons. I never stayed anywhere else for more than one year. Only at Panathinaikos. I loved this place, the team, the fans, the country. It is difficult to just say that I want to leave and go somewhere else. When I look in Europe, the other championships, teams, countries, I have everything here.
As I said before, food, fans, weather, basketball, competing for the title in every year. Basket League, Greek Cup, Euroleague. I have the chance. Where else should I go and have all these? My family is here, my daughter is going to school, everybody is happy. Where else should I go?
In every country, I have a different name. Jabis in Turkey, Ricardo when I came from Unicaha Malaga. I could not be Ricardo here, so I had to pick a greek name. There are many people here named Vasilis, Panos, Giorgos, Giannis. I was thinking which should be my name and I chose Gistopoulos, as it is in Instagram. It stayed and I like it.
We are professional basketball players in the second highest level of the world. Euroleague is right after NBA for the sports. When you are performing on top level, they expect it from you. High level basketball. They are expecting the victory. If you are not enjoying the pressure, stop playing basketball. Do something else, work somewhere else. Maybe 9-5 every day behind a desk.
I feel that our job is among the best in the world. If you are afraid of it, get a dog. We used to say this season, 'if you are afraid, go to church'. If you do not like pressure, there is nothing you can do. You must learn to love it, react in that pressure. There are high ambitions in clubs such as Panathinaikos, Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce.
See what happens in the NBA as well. Cleveland Cavaliers were first in Eastern and sacked David Blatt. They are looking for winning mentality everywhere. The player has to be ready, otherwise he could go to amateur level, if he wants to rest 3-4 months every summer. I will take two months of vacation and be all right.
I never said that I want to leave Greece, I also liked Italy very much. With Biella, we managed to reach the Play Offs, beat Virtus Roma, lost from Armani Milano in the semi finals. It was a huge success for me. After that I went to Russia, things were difficult for me, the language, the food, the people were not so nice with me. It was snowing all the time.
Still, the clubs in Russia are very good and trying to treat the athletes nice, in order to enjoy their stay there. But it was not the best place in Europe for me. I liked Serbia very much, everything was nice there, and then in Turkey, my worst season in Europe. Not only because I did not perform well, but because of the team's condition. It was a bad season for all of us, coachers, staff, everybody.
I felt very bad there because I did not go to Europe to live, but to play basketball. If I wanted to live somewhere, it would be in America, I am here for the basketball. And when it is not good, I don't feel well. I could live in Greece or Spain very nicely, but this is not the point. I am here to do my job, what I love, and when things are not going well, I am trying to turn them around.
I had that feeling in Turkey and in Russia a little bit. I was happy in Spain, but could not cooperate well with my head coach. We were not being able to agree in some things, so I could not won titles there. So, I joined Panathinaikos. I am telling all these to you, to prove you that only here I stayed for 4 excellent years. There was never a time in which I wanted to live, maybe in the past yes, but not in Greece.
We should had won the title this season, I do not want to take anything from Olympiakos. Nothing from Spanoulis, Lojeski and the others. They played well, followed their tactics. The coaches did what they had to do. We could not take advantage of the miss matches, their game plan worked. They won the title, but I really feel that we were better than them.
We won the first game, lost the second from a buzzer beater, did not take a 2-0 lead, the third in details, when we were 6-7 points ahead. I do not want to speak about luck, because I do not believe in it. I believe in the preparation, chances, in these things. But sometimes, the only thing you need is to score and see your plays working well in the game.
Panathinaikos were able to beat any opponents, the finals were decided by small details. Spanoulis is a great player and did what great players are doing. That's the reason he is so famous, the central figure of greek basketball nowadays. Diamantidis retired, so Spanoulis will be the one everybody would be looking from now on. He has won Euroleague's titles because he is able to score buzzer beaters like those.
Spanoulis is an MVP, you always want such players in the team. Printezis was incredible in the finals, he was not ready in the 4th game, because he was injured, but with 17 points in the first, 20 in the second, 10-15 in the third made the difference. You can't take from them their accomplishment. But I feel that we should had won the title. We lost two games with buzzer beater and one with only 4 points.
We had the chance to beat them in every clash. We were different in the finals, with new plays. Much more freedom than during coach Djordjevic era. He was a very good head coach and a nice guy. It was difficult when we learned that he was sacked. A great guy, boosted our confidence. He helped us become better, believed in us more than we were believing in ourselves.
Djordjevic wanted the best from us, wanted to win. He did our best, but the season was going like a roller coaster, ups and downs. It happens to all the teams, nobody is perfect all the time. We had such high targets at the beginning that it was unbelievable how much we fall later. We had to chance something, in order to remain strong for the titles.
The way we lost against Laboral Kutxa in Euroleague was not nice, but I believe that we did our best. There was nothing else we could do, Laboral were very strong and a bad match up for us. We had problems during the whole season with such teams, with creative guards who can score 3-points, our rotation was not the best one available.
I don't know if the results would be better with coach Pedoulakis, I don't know. Laboral Kutxa is a better team than Olympiakos, but with different style. We had many changes during the season, but we are all professionals. It is not our job to worry about the coaches, the administration, the referees. Our only job is playing basketball.
Basketball changes and every season the rivalry between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos becomes stronger. But they are not the only teams in Greece able to beat any opponents. AEK, Aris and PAOK are also very strong, the level of the competition is higher here. Kifisia BC is also a very good team, even if they ended the season with an unbelievable incident.
I have the utmost respect for Kifisia BC, they were very good, almost beat us twice and Olympiakos at the home game as well. There are quality teams with good players, good coaches, nice basketball. This is the sport, you can create a team to cash anyone. It is not right, there is no fun. If someone is winning for 15 years in a row, it has no value. We should always have competition.
I would like to go to a Champions League football game of Olympiakos, I like football. They faced Arsenal this season and Manchester United two years ago. I wanted to attend the match, but of course I could not do it, because I am a member of Panathinaikos. Manchester United is my favorite football club, it would be nice seeing them in action.
Red and white are my favorite colors, you should write that because everybody is asking me about it. My college team was wearing red and white and they are my favorite colors since then. When I joined Partizan, I was wearing red shoes in the first training and they did not like that, because of their rivalry with Red Star Belgrade.
I laughed and told them, the color of my shoes is one of my contract terms? No! In Athens, they started asking me again about my red clothes, so let me explain it: I like red in my outfit. But if I could show you my heart, it would be definitely green. The blood of my body is also green, so what matters the most? Your outfit or what you are feeling inside yourself?", said James Gist at the first part of his SDNA interview.