Coming to the big encounter between CSKA and Olympiacos, some final remarks from İstanbul.
Needless to say, CSKA is shown as the favourite by most of the people. Most of the people who will watch the final at Sinan Erdem is sure that Olympiacos resist but very few gave them a strong chance. One of the most optimistic coaches on Olympiacos was Stevislav Pesic, who commented that they could be shown as favourite.
One of the players that caught my attention in the semifinal was Victor Khryapa with his decent display. He was one the most important players of CSKA throughout the year. The Russian team suffered rare loses against Khimki and Galatasaray while he could not play. At Bilbao, it was not his day and CSKA was beaten again. He is the integral part of team chemistry both offensively and defensively. His legs can be tired as all of his teammates because CSKA played in PBL, VTB United in addition to Euroleague. In the semifinal against Panathinaikos, Khryapa was far away from his offensive rhythm. However, he thinks that winning despite this was important and waits for a strong fight in the final.
“I think the semifinal wasn’t perfect for anybody. But in the end we found some way to come back and win the game,even on a bad day, so it was good. Hard defense and team work was crucial. Playing in the same level both in VTB United League and PBL as well as Euroleague was hard. Both in Euroleague, both teams deserve to be in the final so it is going to be a good finish. They have a great coach so i’m sure they will fight and we will do the same. “
On the other side, there is the coach that gave Olympiacos, the only European crown that they have in 1997: Dusan Ivkovic. On that day, Barcelona only managed to score 58 points. I asked to the great Serbian coach whether defense or offense will decide the winner of the encounter.
“Today, it’s very hard to split basketball into offence and defence. For example, yes it was, the defensive part, our defense of the game against Barcelona. The logic was just to stay over 70 points. Our defense was very very good. I don’t think that tomorrow is going to be that defensive game like it was in the first day.”
Olympiacos veteran center, Lazaros Papadopoulos had an injury recently and although he was in the training last evening, is not expected to play. Instead, Joel Dorsey came in the middle of the season from Caja Laboral and made a great impact.
He was the star of the semifinal with his Dwight Howard type domination. I wonder Sasha Kaun prefered Papadopoulos rather than Dorsey. However, 2.11 center said that they are both very good and destructive players but is indifferent between them and does not have a specific preference.
Kaun can have more minutes, even more than he expects because Nenad Krstic was injured while making a block in the last two minutes of the semifinal and did not manage to walk back to court. Kazlauskas said on Friday that his situation with his knee is unclear. Today, Krstic showed up at the final training; although, he has some pain and put ice on the injured knee after it. CSKA side says that he will play despite the pain.
One last interesting note to conclude: There is only one team that was able to beat both of these teams in Last 16 stage of Euroleague and that was Galatasaray, Istanbul. Those games were played in Abdi İpekci Hall, instead of Sinan Erdem though.