Five Final Fours, five Finals, Baskonia and predictions

2018-04-16T12:08:50+01:00 2018-04-16T14:42:05+01:00.

Nikos Varlas

16/Apr/18 12:08

Kostas Sloukas returns to his official blog on Eurohoops, right before the final stretch of the season! He writes about the upcoming playoff series against Baskonia, Zeljko Obradovic’s tradition with Fenerbahce, the differences of last season with this one and about how hard it is for a European champion to win back-to-back titles.

His own blessed career, the 5 finals in 5 Final Fours and the predictions for the other pairs of the quarterfinals! Enjoy Kostas Sloukas’s blog on Eurohoops!

Baskonia’s form is a wake-up call for us

Hello! The season is entering the final stretch and all of us in Fenerbahce are focused on what we have to do from now on to achieve our goals.

The truth is that we have an excellent tradition in the playoffs while Obradovic has been here. In the time I’ve been in Fenerbahce we have a 6-0 record in the series against Real and Panathinaikos, and again in 2015 it was 3-0 against Maccabi! Coach has been undefeated in the playoffs since he got here, but tradition can’t play basketball.

Baskonia are perhaps the most in-form team in the EuroLeague as of late and that is a wake-up call for us. They’re playing really good basketball, they have a strong defense, they’re dangerous in transition, and they’re a squad that has experience, principles, a philosophy, a plan and a coach who’s doing a great job.

We must be ready for everything and follow our coach’s plan, and, for me, the first game is very important. Tremendously so! We have to go into that first game of the series with the fans on our side as if it’s a ‘do or die’ game and then do the same thing in the second as well…

It’s a turning point in the season but I believe we will be ready. We have the best defense in the EuroLeague, we have many players who have experience and talent, and of course a coach who knows how to prepare us and guide us like no other can.

Last season we definitely had to win the title and that created a lot of pressure. But we have the same ambitions this season and we’re interested, first of all, to make it to the Final Four.

The 5 out of 5 qualifications, the difficulty of back-to-back titles and the… new Fenerbahce

Reaching the top is very hard. Staying there for a second season is even harder and I have experienced that with Olympiacos. Only we had achieved this with coach Bartzokas then, and Maccabi.

I’ve said before that I feel lucky and blessed. I’ve already played in many big games throughout my career. I’ve been in 7 Final Fours. I played in 5 of those and in every one I played I made it to the final!

Compared to last season’s roster, the absence of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Ekpe Udoh is definitely a factor. They stepped up when things got tough, had a big impact and functioned as leaders. But I think that this season we had a more consistent course and we proved this by finishing second in the regular season. We have everything it takes to go a long way and play for the title. First, though, we have to make it to the Final Four and it’s important to protect our home court.

The predictions for the pairs and the one pair for which no predictions are possible!

Even though Khimki are an excellent team with a lot of talent, I believe that CSKA will qualify for the Final Four more easily than any of the others. I’d like to believe we will too, I’m optimistic and I have confidence in the team.

As for Olympiacos, it won’t be easy because Zalgiris are a real team that never gives up and can do damage. On the other hand, Olympiacos have experience, they have proven so many times that they are team of mettle and strong personalities, and in the end I think these things will count and they will win the series.

Regarding Panathinaikos and Real, I honestly cannot make any predictions whatsoever! It’s going to be a close series, more so than any of the others, anything can happen and it’s impossible to foretell the outcome.

See you again soon! Be well everyone, Kostas