Four familiar faces to one another – all winners in Friday’s semifinals games – gathered Saturday afternoon at Sinan Erdem Arena for the official press conference to discuss the title game of the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. Head coach Jonas Kazlauskas and star guard Milos Teodosic represented CSKA Moscow, while Coach Dusan Ivkovic and forward Georgios Printezis took part for Olympiacos. Since both Kazlauskas and Teodosic have spent time with the Reds, Ivkovic coached CSKA and Printezis played under Kazlauskas in Piraeus, everyone on the dais was quite familiar with the rest. Here is what they had to say about the game – and in some cases – each other:
CSKA Moscow head coach Jonas Kazlauskas
"First, for sure we are very happy that we are in the final. We beat yesterday an excellent team, who played an excellent game, which made it a double prize. Tomorrow we will play against an excellent team, an experienced team with an experienced coach. Tomorrow will be a different game. For sure it is important to prepare our players. It is a new game and no one can say they aren’t a little tired.
"I want to say that I am very happy that I had chance to coach teams like Olympiacos and now CSKA. I have good relations with Olympiacos fans, the club, the players. I don’t see any problems. It is good that we are both coaches that coached both teams. So let’s win basketball!"
Olympiacos Piraeus head coach Dusan Ivkovic
"Good afternoon to everyone. It is a big pleasure to be here in front of you. I think that we all expect a big game against CSKA tomorrow. From our side, I think we have to prepare the game in a different way than against FC Barcelona. My team goes game by game and has grown up a lot. It was unexpected for many people that we controlled the game yesterday. CSKA, just as Barcelona, is more experienced than us, but we have to prepare a different game. We played against CSKA twice in the Top 16. The first one was a good game, but CSKA was much, much better than us in the second one. I think that we have to be ready for tomorrow's game. We have to expect a big game tomorrow.
"In the semifinal yesterday, our goal was probably to score more than 70 points to beat Barcelona. Their defense allowed 61 points per game until now. It is difficult to choose which good things that we did yesterday can be useful tomorrow - it is a different game. We have to expect a game with high pressure, like every important one. We have to play with high rhythm, play good defense and control the boards better than we did yesterday. Don't forget that CSKA has a great frontline and has Andrei Kirilenko at small forward, who is fast, has great hands and always plays hard.
"CSKA is a much different team and I think that we can play much better than yesterday. If there is anything that we did well against Barcelona, it is that we didn't allow them to get mismatches expect rebounding. We have to improve that against a team like CSKA. It has been the same team from the beginning of the season. All teams in the Final Four did not have players leaving to the NBA, but CSKA managed to sign Kirilenko and keep him in the team, which gives them an advantage. I think we have to be ready for all this tomorrow."
"Both of us – Ivkovic and Kazlauskas - have worked in the same teams. I have coached a lot of players who are now with CSKA. CSKA is a team with big tradition and they had a new start in 2002, when I was there for three years. It is not only the players; I have a lot of friends and a good relationship with CSKA. It was a very important time in my career. As for Olympiacos, I remember that we spoke before the season, with so many problems in Greece. A Greek journalist asked me about our goals and what we could expect and I said I am sure we had to enjoy and make people enjoy. We have to enjoy this final, it is very important. The best team will win, it has been a very tough Euroleague season and of course, I really expect the final to be really tough tomorrow."
"Yes, I took my team to the beach the morning before the 1997 final. As for this time, we have practice today and after that I will have to decide what to do. Maybe we will go to the beach or just somewhere else. I am not ready to announce our schedule but the Bosphorus is very close! (laughs) Maybe we will go to take a tour."
CSKA Moscow guard Milos Teodosic
"I am very happy that we are in the Euroleague finals. Friday was a very hard and tough game for us, but I already forgot about it and I'm trying to get ready for the final. We respect Olympiacos a lot; the way they play, it is going to be another hard game for us. I know that my team and my teammates are ready to take what we came for here in Istanbul.
"I am glad we are playing against Olympiacos because I spent four great years there, I have lot of friends on the team and among the fans. I already thanked their fans for supporting us in the important moments of the semifinals, but in the final game I will put my emotions on the side, be professional and do my job.
"Their strength is Coach Dusan Ivkovic, and their best player and X-factor is Spanoulis. Everything starts from him and in the first two games we played against them this season, we tried to stop him but we cannot forget about other players because they showed they know how to play good basketball as well.
"I spent five great years with Coach Ivkovic, with the national team. We had a lot of success but some failures too. He taught me to play tough and to work hard. Now I am happy to have Coach Kazlauskas on the bench, he gave me lot of freedom, always supported me. We have a great relationship and hopefully we will work for many years to come."
Olympiacos Piraeus forward Georgios Printezis
"For us it’s a very big pleasure that we are in the Final Four. And it’s a very big pleasure that we are in the final against a team I thought was the favorite from the start of the season. Yesterday we played against a very strong team in Barcelona. We won in one style of the game. Now we have to continue it and relax today for the final. Nobody expected this from us at the beginning of the season, but I think we deserve this. I hope that tomorrow finishes the same way that yesterday finished.
"I think that from the beginning of the season most of the games that we played we were not the favorites. But we always won and I hope that works again. We are not favorite tomorrow. Until now CSKA played at the highest level with the fewest losses. But a final is one game. We will try to take the chance that we have.
"The feeling here is not just about tomorrow and the final. It’s about what we received from the fans, starting against Siena. Everything started against Siena. This is my first final with Olympiacos. For sure it’s something great after playing here for so many years."