Ioannis Papapetrou: ‘We will play even better'

Dec 13, 2017 by Ioannis Papapetrou - Piraeus, Greece Print
Ioannis Papapetrou:  ‘We will play even better'

Hello, again! We come off a big win against Real Madrid, so I guess it is a good idea to start with that. It was a great basketball party, the fans came to support us and we had a great game. We led the game for the best part of it, but Madrid came back and forced overtime. It was a very entertaining game for our fans; that is for sure. I have to give credit to Madrid for its comeback; they showed a lot of heart. Luka Doncic made some great plays down the stretch, not only scoring, but also creating for others. Also, Jaycee Carroll hit some big shots, including a three-pointer that forced overtime. Doncic is playing amazing basketball right now and it is unbelievable to see someone playing so well at his age. Georgios [Printezis] stepped up big in overtime with 7 points in the most critical moments. He missed 2 crucial free throws at the end of regulation and after that he was determined to give more in overtime. He put the game away and you need a lot of character to do that.

Billy [Spanoulis] is back and that is great news for all of us. We changed roommates and now that he is back, I am not sure who is going to be his new roommate. For the last two seasons, it was me. We are happy that he is back and healthy. Anyone who knows this team is aware of how important Billy is to us. It is also good that we were able to win many games without him. It shows we are a great team; even when we were missing a key player, we still went out, played good basketball and won games. This is what a good team is all about. We tried to play well without Billy and hopefully now, we will play even better.

In case you are wondering, Dimitris Agravanis was my roommate earlier this season and now that he is injured, Kyle Wiltjer is my new roommate. He has to adjust to the rules because this is his first experience in Europe. Not just at the EuroLeague level, but his first season in Europe. Kyle is a good player who is practicing hard and giving everything he has. He will be an important player for us. I know that his father, Greg Wiltjer, played for Aris many years ago, but I believe he was in Greece before Kyle was born. His father was also a good player and reached some EuroLeague Final Fours with Aris.

The atmosphere over here is good. We have been playing well and winning enough games to be tied with CSKA for first place in the standings, and we will play against them at home very soon. Still, nobody should be overwhelmed and get too excited because this can turn around really fast. We know how it goes and what we need to do to keep winning. What we did until now means nothing and we know for a fact that every team out there will be very motivated to beat us and take us out of first place. We need to keep going and play better than we have until now.

This is my fifth season with Olympiacos's first team and I am excited about it. Our team is built in a way that its core is full of Greek players. If you think about Olympiacos over the last five years, the first names that come to mind are always Greek, plus we always have good foreign players, mostly Americans, who help us a lot. I am proud of having good players on our team, but also good characters. The Greek core is still here and I am happy to be a part of it, plus we have younger guys coming after us, like Toliopoulos and Arsenopoulos. We keep adding to this core, because Greek guys know all about the team's history and what Olympiacos means to its fans. They adjust faster and play the best basketball they can play.

Speaking of Greek players, did you now that Georgios Bogris has a clothing core here in Athens? I have been there. It is called MOOD and the clothes he sells are amazing. Bogris got some style! He even takes good care of his hair before games and definitely pays attention to his looks. His clothes are good and anyone who visits his store should confirm it. He has big sizes, of course, especially for us. He does expect his teammates to buy stuff in his store.

We will play against Brose Bamberg on the road before we have CSKA. I am looking forward to this game because it is a great chance for us to prove ourselves. It is always tough to play in Bamberg; we lost there in the last couple of seasons. It is a very good arena, small but always crowded, plus Bamberg always has a good team. I am coming off an injury and hopefully, I will be available to play and help the team keep winning. Of course, it will be great to see Nikos Zisis. As you probably know, Nikos and Billy are best friends, but he knows all of us. Nikos is an amazing person and a great family guy. It is hard to find anyone saying bad things about him. We are looking forward to seeing him; he is a friend of every Greek player in the team. He never played for Panathinaikos or Olympiacos, but still had a great EuroLeague career and is one of the best Greek players of all time.

Happy new year to all the basketball fans out there! I just hope we can keep winning in 2018 and give ourselves the opportunity to do something big. We wish all the best for all the Olympiacos fans out there, and that means we will have to make them proud of their team. We will keep fighting, as always!