Now in his fifth EuroLeague season, Petteri Koponen is among the most experienced players on his new club, FC Bayern Munich. He begins his season as a EuroLeague.net blogger by discussing the move to Munich, what he learned from his two years in Barcelona and what Bayern's goals are.
When I became a free agent in the summer I began to talk to Bayern and other clubs. You know how it is with free agency; it's exciting to see what options you have. Bayern was clearly the best one.
Bayern told me about the project they have, that they will be in the EuroLeague for the next three seasons and that they want to build something, get bigger and better as a club and one day to be one of the big teams in Europe. We are not there yet, but we are on the way there and that's the ultimate goal. That project made me really interested in signing here.
"I learned from the accident to just appreciate life more and not to worry as much about the little things."
Everyone told me before I got here that Munich is a really nice city, but unfortunately, I have not had many chances to go out and see things. With all the preseason traveling, I only just moved into my new apartment and have been using my time to settle in. I hope during the season to see what is special about this city.
We did go as a team to check out Oktoberfest when I first got here. It was a nice experience. Most of us dressed up; I even bought a lederhosen (traditional German outfit)! It was a nice way to spend time as a team. It's one of those things you want to make sure you experience in life. My friends all asked me about coming in for it. Now that I have done it once, I know what it's all about and I can show them next year.
My family has joined me here since I moved into the apartment. That's the thing about moving teams; when you are younger, it's easy to pick up and move. But as you get older, it's not only about you. You have to make decisions that affect the family. We have two kids and you have to put them first. It's not easy to find apartments here and we had to find one that fits the whole family. And I hear it's not easy to find kindergartens. I can say that I am fortunate that I have played many seasons in each of my clubs and have not had to move almost every year. Now that I am in a new country, new situation, new environment, it will take some time to adjust for me and my family.
Before coming here, I played two seasons for FC Barcelona Lassa and I was involved in a serious car accident when I first got there. It was a challenging two years for me personally and as a team; we didn't play as good as we could have. Personally, I had the car accident in the first season and in the second year I wasn't myself, but also I played half the year injured. That's part of the job, but after these types of accidents, you appreciate the small things more. I learned from the accident to just appreciate life more and not to worry as much about the little things. Even when I have a bad day, I remember that I can still play basketball and I try to enjoy every moment.
This season what is most important for Bayern is to be competitive in every game. We know there are some bigger clubs with bigger goals than us, but I think we have a team and the players to be competitive. Now that we have beaten Panathinaikos at home, we want to continue that. I think we can surprise some teams and play solid basketball. We'll see how far we can go.
We started the season at home against Anadolu Efes. We didn't play so good in that game and Efes was more intense. They showed us what EuroLeague basketball is. We learned that at this level if you come out without focus and energy, you are going to be in trouble. The win against Panathinaikos was really important for us as a team because it showed us that we can beat teams at this level. Panathinaikos is an excellent team with an excellent coach. It was a big win for us.
"We can't waste time celebrating after the wins or crying after the losses. We have to keep going."
We still have to try to improve as a team every week. We can still get better. We have a lot of room for improvement. We know we can play much better. It was important to get the first win against a great team like Panathinaikos and I hope we can continue winning big games like that.
I try to help the team with my experience when I can. Sometimes some of the younger players ask about something that I can help with, but in the end, it's basketball. It's about what the coaches want and how we play. I think what's most important in the new EuroLeague format is that you have to keep fighting all season; there will be good games and bad games. We will win some and lose some. But we can't waste time celebrating after the wins or crying after the losses. We have to keep going and get focused for the next game. The teams are really good, so every game is tough. It's a marathon. You need to try to play your best and keep going, no matter what. I think that's the key to being successful in this format.