The 20th anniversary of the EuroLeague could not be properly celebrated without hearing from the author of one of the most important shots in the competition, which makes two-time EuroLeague champion Georgios Printezis a natural guest to sit alongside Joe Arlauckas on the latest episode of The Crossover.
Printezis capped the Reds’ unthinkable comeback in the 2012 EuroLeague Championship Game against CSKA Moscow, with a floater in the dying seconds, to give his team the championship and was a central piece a year later when Olympiacos rallied past Real Madrid for back-to-back crowns.
The conversation ranged across the breath of Printezis’ rich career, but of course, that famous championship game against CSKA was a central topic. One major revelation from their conversation was coach Dusan Ivkovic’s motivational tactics from halftime of that game.
“‘Instead of losing all the team, I preferred to lose one player,'” Printezis recalled that Ivkovic explained after the game.
“He talked to Spanoulis and said: ‘What are you doing?!?! Why do you do all this?!?!’ instead to wake up all the others. That was his secret…Everybody was bad, but instead of saying something bad to me, to Hines, to Sloukas, to everybody, he said I will say it to Billy [Spanoulis] so everybody will support him and will take the example to play more.”
Making such a big shot might go to some people’s heads, but Printezis was not only modest, he takes the big-picture view of what it means to have been part of such a historic moment.
“The amazing thing – and the greatest thing, trust me – is not that you make the shot, or that you won,” Printezis said. “It’s that you feel the energy and you see people crying because you gave them a lot of happiness, they forgot their problems. They come, they hug you, they kiss you. Trust me, this is more important.”
The road to becoming an Olympiacos legend included a season and a half abroad with Unicaja Malaga.
What started with high hopes became a letdown when Printezis was told that he was no longer a part of the 12-man playing squad. Learning to accept his fate without making excuses led Printezis on a path back to the Reds and multiple titles.
“The easiest thing I could say at that moment was, ‘Listen, it’s the coach’s fault. I’m good, I deserve to play, it’s your fault,'” Printezis explained.
“If you say this, immediately it’s like you give up. If you don’t find an excuse and just try to be better and you try to motivate yourself, let’s say to improve on your shot, your [weight], your body and to be better. After you take all of this negativity and turn it into confidence, it can push you for the next year.”