The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Press Conference brought the stars and coaches of the Final Four teams together to discuss what they all traveled to Milan for: Winning the championship! And doing so in the shadow of the stunning Milan cathedral, the Duomo, enhanced the historic experience for the players and visitors alike. With the Euroleague trophy alongside as a reminder of what is at stake, the press conference took place at the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Fan Zone at Piazza del Duomo. For the first time, the press conference was held in public, with throngs of fans cramming around the covered tent to get a glimpse of their favorite players. In addition to Euroleague President and CEO Jordi Bertmeu and Milan city council member Chiara Bisconti, who both welcomed the media and fans, freshly crowned Euroleague MVP Sergio Rodriguez and head coach Pablo Laso of Real Madrid, Ante Tomic and head coach Xavi Pascual of FC Barcelona, Sonny Weems and head coach Ettore Messina of CSKA Moscow and Ricky Hickman and head coach David Blatt of Maccabi Electra participated in the event.
Chiara Bisconti, Milan city council member
"Good morning to everybody. First of all, I would like to address a special thought to Turkey. I'm bringing to you a special welcome from our Mayor, Mr. Giuliano Pisapia, and I'm glad to welcome all of you to our city and to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four.
"We've been working hard in the previous months, the city is prettier and it's a great honor for us to be the host of such a great event. The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four will be a great sports weekend, but also a great chance for the city of Milan to prove how much it can commit. The One Team and One Milan social programs are great for that, and we are bringing 150 volounteers to help the organization perform better. That is the positive energy of our city: our administration wants to keep in mind to care about people and to lead a positive change for our country, and the city has been ready to work hard for this event both in organization and by the response of its basketball fans, as we remember that the tickets sold out very quickly.
"The Fan Zone in Piazza Duomo will also be a crucial event, because it will leave our fans the chance to play basketball in one of the most beautiful stages ever, our beautiful Piazza Duomo. So welcome to all the 10,000 fans that are coming to Milan, may the best team win!"
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv head coach, David Blatt
"We from Maccabi are so proud to be a part of this great event. I congratulate all my colleagues and players on their seasons. Our experience as a club is not only the quarterfinals here in Milan, it is from decades of history in international competition. It's tradition, it's vision, it's management and an endless list of great players and coaches. I'm excited.
"We know the locker room and we know how to get to the gym. The Euroleague changed the floor, so I don't know how well we'll be able to run, but we do know the baskets The big thing is that we
have to play against a great opponent that has the same experience that we do. If I'm not mistaken, Ettore has been in the Milan gym a few times in his career too. its nice to be back and eat the food in Italy, We had a great experience a few weeks ago and we are feeling good about that.
"It's extremely special to me because of the history between these two clubs and those of you that know understand significance and recognize the wonderful progress that we've all made on several different levels and basketball has been a part of that. I was fortunate to work in Russia for seven years. I am unfortunate that many of those players now play for Coach Messina and CSKA. They are a great group that did a lot for their country and a great deal for me."
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv forward, Devin Smith
"Every game we play is a different game. Everybody makes changes week by week. We have a great staff that prepares us every week and we have to relay their message on the floor."
CSKA Moscow head coach, Ettore Messina
"It is a big accomplishment for all of us to be one more time in the Final Four. I think we started slowly, but I think we progressed very well in the Top 16 and in the playoffs. The new players have added us more depth, experience and toughness, giving us a more balanced team this year that hopefully will fight until the last minute this year.
"I have no idea how this will affect us. i know one thing, most of you think we're a bunch of chokers because we choked two years ago in the final and last year in the semifinal. Hopefully we choked at the right time and we'll be ready for the game."
CSKA Moscow forward, Sonny Weems
"We cant get too excited like we did last year. There's a lot going on and a lot of fans congratulating you on what you did. We have to come with the mindset to be focused, pay attention to details and play good basketball."
FC Barcelona head coach , Xavi Pascual
"Good afternoon. we are happy to be here, it is an honor to make it to the Final Four one more year. It is difficult to talk about definitive factors when two teams know each other so well. If it goes down
to a close ending, I am sure that the most basic details of them all will decide the game, the ones that have to do with basic things like turnovers, rebounds and effectiveness can decide a game like this."
FC Barcelona center, Ante Tomic
"First of all, we have to beat Real Madrid, that's the first step. Of course, this is my third Final Four and my first goal here will be not finishing third like in my first two years. We have Real Madrid against us and it will be a tough game. We played against them a few times this season and did not have the best results against them. We hope we can get closer to them in terms of our overall record against Madrid this season."
Real Madrid head coach, Pablo Laso
"When you get to the point that you get here in Milan to play the Final Four against the best teams, you cannot change things in one week. You have to play your basketball and do the things that you did all year and brought you here. We know we play against a great rival like FC Barcelona, it is always tough to play against them. We have to do what we did all season - play a good game and control it, along with the little things that can make you win it.
"Having the Euroleague MVP come off the bench makes me look as if I don't know much about basketball! Like Sergio said, I have a lot of confidence in my players. I am very proud that he is the MVP, but also of the rest of my players. For this individual award to go our way, a lot of people had to work hard - the team, the club, the organization. A lot of people have to push for these awards to arrive. I am proud of Sergio for being the MVP, but also of the rest of my players, who helped him get this award.
Real Madrid guard, Sergio Rodriguez
"Like I said before, we have been together for a long time. We know each other and our coach prepared us to be ready at any moment. We are comfortable with the way we play and that is the biggest part; we know how we will play and will prepare to win.
"Every game you play matters, but every game is a different world. We can prepare a game in the best way possible, but every game is different. Of course last week's game matters; we watched it and saw what we did right and wrong. This game will be different.
"I am very happy with my experience in the NBA. I went there when I was 20. It helped me get better and without it, I wouldn't be in this position right now. I felt comfortable playing there, against the best and I am happy how things went in order to get better.
"I am very happy with everyone' work; anyone on this team could get an award. If we had not made it this far, we wouldn't have chances to win any individual awards. Above all, I want to thank my teammates, coaches and the club for the support they gave me throughout these years to get better and grow as a player."