By Talha Ozturk
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Anadolu Efes Istanbul’s head coach Ergin Ataman made a prediction after his team beat Olympiacos Piraeus to get to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague final: We will win.
"We are playing the final for the third time in a row. We will try to protect our champion title. It will be a difficult final. We want to win and we will,'' said Ataman.
The reigning champions will face Real Madrid, a team Ataman acknowledged is the strongest squad in the Europa League.
"They have a very experienced coach at their head. They can always come up with different tactics. They are very strong under the rim. They have the strongest squad in the Europa League. There will be a match of different strategies,” he said. “We are a team that uses the creativity of our shots. Real Madrid is a team that uses the long ones better. We won once in the season and once they won. It will be a difficult final,'' said Ataman.
Semifinal hero Vasilije Micic from Serbia, who made a last-second three-pointer to place Anadolu Efes in the final, said it is a great privilege to play in the championship game.
''Although we could not make the start of the season we wanted, we recovered and made it to the finals. We do a very good job at managing difficult situations,'' he said.
- Real Madrid head coach: I have great respect for Anadolu Efes
Real Madrid head coach Pablo Laso said he has great respect for Anadolu Efes.
''I have great respect for Anadolu Efes. To beat such a team, you have to do many things right. Anadolu Efes is a great team,” he said. “Micic and (Shane) Larkin are the kind of players who change the course. Our only job should not be to stop them. Then they will find another option.”
Laso said his team will face a very strong opponent in the final and Real Madrid needs to change their mentality.
"We need to recover physically. We need to change our mentality. We will play against a different team. I will do whatever it takes to win,'' he said.