One Euroleague season nearly in the books for Fenerbahce’s Jan Vesely and CSKA Moscow’s Nando De Colo after spells in the NBA, but unfortunately, this was the game that they did not want to play in.
Fenerbahce and CSKA Moscow will face off in the Euroleague Final Four’s forgotten encounter as they compete in the third place game on Sunday evening.
“It is what it is, I guess,” Vesely said. “It’s not what I imagined my Euroleague season to be like but here I am.”
“At the end of the day, we are professionals and we have to go out there and play our best, especially for the fans who travelled from Russia to see us,” added De Colo.
For both players, while playing in the third place game is less than glamorous as opposed to the championship game that will be played two hours later, they have both enjoyed stellar individual seasons with Czech international Vesely averaging 11.4 points and 5.5 rebounds a game and his French counterpart putting up 14.3 points overall. The latter was also awarded a place on this season’s All-Euroleague second team.
Vesely, formally of the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets also admits that while it’s pleasing to be playing games that are a little spaced out as opposed to the hectic, 82-game NBA schedule, he misses his time in the States and misses playing in America but did what was best for him.
“The playing level here is more or less the same,” Vesely states. “Fans have different views on this but the Euroleague is very competitive, so it made it easier for me to settle and play for Fenerbahce.”
For Vesely, this will be his second third place game in his second Final Four having lost out to Olympiacos in the semi-final and then CSKA Moscow in the consolation game in Paris in 2010, while the forward was a player with Partizan Belgrade.
The 27-year-old De Colo returned to Europe after a two-and-a-half year hiatus after playing for the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors in the NBA. Like Vesely, the French international’s time in the States was less than satisfactory as he struggled for court time and was a regular in the D-League when with the Spurs.
De Colo has enjoyed his return to Europe but has not exactly got what he wanted.
“I just wanted more playing time and CSKA have given me that,” he explains. “But I wish I was speaking to you as a finalist, not as a consolation player. It isn’t all the end for us though, we still have the VTB League to play for after this so we will be back.”