At the tender age of 20, Zan Tabak took part in one of the most remarkable accomplishments in European basketball history when his club, Pop 84 Split, knocked off FC Barcelona to win its third consecutive Euroleague title, a feat that has not been matched since. That happened at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, which is set to host the 2010 Euroleague Final Four. Tabak would go on to have a successful pro career in Europe and overseas, winning an Olympic silver medal with Croatia and an NBA title. Now 39, Tabak has risen to the level of lead assistant coach with Cajasol Sevilla in the prestigious Spanish League. With the Final Four back in Paris, he gives his take on what to expect.
Zan, how has the season gone for you and your team, Cajasol, in the Spanish League?
"Personally and for my team, the season has gone very well so far. We reached our goal long ago and are enjoying the good position we have in the Spanish League. We managed to make it to the Spanish King's Cup final eight and reach the Spanish League playoffs. We will try to stay fifth at the end of the regular season and get as ready as possible for the upcoming playoffs."
What are your thoughts on Friday's first semifinal, Barcelona vs. CSKA, and which of them do you think will win?
"When it goes down to one game, it is difficult to predict what will happen. There is always room for surprises. In my opinion, Barcelona will beat CSKA because it has been the most steady team in the Euroleague and the Spanish League this season. It is also a better team, player by player."
What are your thoughts on Friday's second semifinal, Partizan vs. Olympiacos, and which of them do you think will win?
"Well, all lights are on Olympiacos because they are the favorites, but Partizan has shown not only this season, but for several years that it is able and ready to beat anybody. Again, anything can happen in a single-game situation, but in the end, the Euroleague final will be Barcelona against Olympiacos."
Who do you pick as your Euroleague champion and why?
"If we go down to logic, it has to be Barcelona. They have shown throughout the season that they don't have many ups and downs, not only in the Euroleague, but also in the Spanish League. A very important factor for Barcelona to win the Euroleague is the physical intensity level allowed in this tournament."
Who do you think will be a likely MVP for that winning team?
"If Barcelona wins, I think Pete Mickeal will be the Final Four MVP. I expect Barcelona to play two physical games. Every game in which you fight for a title is very physical. In those kind of games, Mickeal feels more comfortable than any other Barcelona player."