He went through the first half without seeing the ball. Not a shot to put in their mouths for Moustapha Fall, yet an essential pawn of Olympiakos. The Olympic vice-champion pivot, watched by Donatas Motiejunas, struggled within a compact defense, which the Hellenes initially had difficulty stretching. This was done when the tornado of the third quarter (27-2).
The interior of the Blues regained its weight and its dominance under the circle, served by Kostas Sloukas and Thomas Walkup for back-to-basket moves and thunderous dunks like the one where he disposed of Donta Hall with a fake before crushing the ball in the circle. Efficient and powerful against his former club, Fall finished with 12 points at 5/6, 4 rebounds, 4 ists and 5 fouls. A project that will allow him to experience his first European final on Sunday.
“We did not recognize Olympiakos in the first half. How do you explain it?
We played too much around the three-point line, we were not aggressive. We looked for a bit of alternation, more back-to-basket play and combat. We executed better. Monaco must have been surprised by our failed first half. Sometimes there are things you have no control over. You don’t know why everything is going against you, you’re just trying to weather the storm. On the other hand, the storm, for them, was too big…
Tell us about this historic third quarter (27-2, the smallest offensive mark in the history of the Final Four over a period)…
It was crazy. I thought we were coming back, but not so soon. We arrived and from the start we provoked four or five violations of the 24 seconds. We were all on the same wavelength, united, it’s nice to have played like that. I had never taken part in a quarter of this physiognomy. I’m glad it happened then (he smiles).
“If we had lost like that, we would have been sorry for a long time…”
Did you say something to yourself in the locker room, when you were trailing (29-41) and awkward, especially at free throws (9/18)?
Just that you had to relax. Everyone spoke, me, Kostas Papanikolaou, the coach… We motivated ourselves and the group followed. If we had lost in this way, playing like that, we would have blamed ourselves long after the season we had. We didn’t deserve to fall like this. Everyone questioned themselves and arrived in better spirits, without frustration.
Do you think you have simply maintained your rank by dominating Monaco in this way?
We are more experienced than them and that could play a role. The objective in coming here was the title. That’s why you don’t see me exulting. For me, we just did what we were supposed to do. If we are champions… Here I am just in concentrated mode for the final.
Olympiakos have won all four of their regular season matches against Real and Barca…
Just as we lost our two games against Monaco… That doesn’t mean anything. When you arrive in the play-offs, at the Final Four, everything that happened before is no longer useful. »