A single day stands between Panathinaikos and playoffs series Game 3 versus Barcelona. The Greens are to host the Catalans on Tuesday (April 16, 21.45, ET1) in Euroleague playoffs series game 3. As far as competitive issues, James Gist’s participation is to be deemed after the team’s practice tomorrow morning.
Panathinaikos Head Coach, Argyris Pedoulakis, spoke about tomorrow’s encounter at the pregame Press conference held at the OAKA, about James Gist but also exhaustion which exists on both teams: “Tomorrow is game 3 in the series, certain things are different and one of the most basic issues is that we are competing now in our home court, with our fans. This is something we must pay attention to, administer appropriately. It is something that will further energize us in defense, but on the other hand we must be extremely cautious in offense, avoiding getting carried away by the fans. In frontcourt we must perform as if no one is in the court. In the past there were games in which we let the crowd get us carried away in offense, like the first few minutes in the clash versus CSKA. That is why then I was forced to request a time-out already from minute one. We were not focused. Only a few guys have learned how to perform in front of 20,000 people and due to your great desire to perform, the game might escape from your grasp”.
Pedoulakis referred next to Barcelona and what 1-1 means: “Barcelona is a quality team, it has solutions and it will certainly seek more now that both opponents know each other better. And certainly it has had more days to react, compared to the time it had between game 1 and game 2. What has changed, what we have earned is better chances and respect. Many thought and up to a certain extent were justified to do so that the series would be easy for Barcelona something towards which its image and its stats offered further proof. That is why I use the word “justified”. At the moment we have better psychology and better chances”.
Concerning James Gist’s injury, he stressed: “There is an issue with Gist from game 2 versus Barcelona. He will add some intensity to his practice tomorrow morning, we will see how he will react and it will be decided how much he will be able to help us. He is a player who performs with his feet a lot. From his side it is a certainty that he wants and will do everything in his power in order to be with us. We will have a tactics issue if he does not perform, because in my opinion he had a multidimensional activity through the first two games. He helped towards unlocking specific aspects in the defensive department mainly. He is very important as are all the guys who are competing. There is exhaustion on both teams something only natural since Euroleague is different this season. We saw how it affected both Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish league. It is a Marathon this year”.
When asked about the extent of the effect the packed-to-the-rim OAKA will have on the players, Pedoulakis underlined: “It is something we experienced with Real and in certain other games at home. Most of our players are not used to playing in front of 20,000 people. There is no other team that can have 20,000 fans at a single game. Tsartsaris, Diamantidis and Schortsanitis (the latter as an opponent) aside, none of the others have experienced it here at the OAKA. We must perform as a team and not allow anything to distract us. Concentration is very important. Things we could perform for 5 minutes, we managed to do for 15, 20 minutes… It is not something that just happens. It takes hard effort and repetition. Right now all we are focusing on is Tuesday’s encounter; we focus on every minute, to chase every ball either in the sky either on the floor. All the guys through their statements approached the issue behind the same mindset. What we stated at the very beginning has not changed at the least. We are not about to change the way we administer matters. We committed cerebral mistakes in game 2 also. What comes naturally is what surfaces first and the guys understand it. What we hope for, is to take it one game at a time, one quarter at a time”.
When asked about tactics, something which seemed to take Barcelona’s head coach by surprise in the first games, Pedoulakis steered his attention to the team: “It is not a personal matter between coaches. The players play, the players try. For instance Gist has defensive abilities one rarely comes upon throughout Europe. It is something we have been working on for quite some time now. And we believe that the series is important enough so as for the element of surprise to exist. What we want is to be healthy. We are facing Barcelona and we have to try even harder to turn the tables on the misfortune we had at the beginning of the Top16 round, with constant injuries occurring, when we performed an entire round without our first string players. As far as tactics I believe that the players will be prepared. If something troubles us that is exhaustion which exists. We have reached April, injuries occurred, certain players had to take on more than was initially planned and these are situations we must handle as cleverly as possible so as to be able to step out for the final quarter of the game, as rested as possible”.
Barcelona’s loss in the Spanish league seems not to affect Pedoulakis: “It has nothing to do with what we are to see tomorrow… The players prepare themselves differently for a Euroleague game and differently for a local league game. Both Barcelona and Real approach the matter more relaxed. After the playoffs you move more worn out, more tired, spiritually also. The soul power a players might have also counts. The spiritual part is important also. The fact that these guys have be going nonstop has started to surface. It is not easy to concentrate on the Greek League, when you have important Euroleague encounters, when you are aiming towards a goal you have been fighting for the entire season”.
Bramos: “Respect, not fear”
Mike Bramos had an important input in Panathinaikos’ win in Barcelona game 2. What he now hopes towards, as do all the Greens, is 1-1 to become-primarily-1-2: “On we go… We got an important win in Barcelona to tie the series and are now to perform at home. We saw video a lot, spotted the mistakes we made. We must avoid mistakes, appeal to their weaknesses and read into situations on court more rapidly. We are facing a truly great team. We respect our opponent entirely, we respect Barcelona, but we do not fear it. It is not an option to be scared going out on court. We know that these two games will be different for us, we know that the court will be full and that the Panathinaikos fans will create an amazing atmosphere with their cheer and their presence”.