Hapoel Jerusalem is preparing for its peak moment: tomorrow (Sunday, 21:00, live broadcast on 5SPORT) Aleksandar Džikić’s Reds will meet Telecom Bonn in the finals of the FIBA Champions League. The team that no one believed in will be only one game away from the cup – and a crowd of thousands will stand behind her in her efforts to get the club’s first European title in 19 years. Before the game, team coach Džikić and Or Cornelius held a special press conference for the big game.
“They say we are favorites? Based on what? When you look at Boone you see only victories, only victories,” he said Dzikic“So if anyone mistakenly believes that then they don’t know what Boone is doing. It’s funny, they keep surprising everyone since October. So maybe it’s time to take them seriously. We’re really not favorites. It’s going to be a tough fight, and we’re not preparing for nothing else.”
When asked about the words of Yanis Antetokounmpo in relation to the attitude to the word ‘failure’, Dzikic said: “I agree with Yanis Antetokounmpo, I don’t believe that good or bad seasons determine whether you are a good coach or not. There is no logic in this. If we lose to Boone it means That we didn’t succeed or that we’re not good? I don’t agree with that, I’m not ready to judge based on the last performance. I understand that the world doesn’t always work that way, but I’m against it. Sport is more than winning or losing.”
“The whole season our process was about getting the guys out of their comfort zone, and they got it,” said Džikić, “we pushed them out of the safe place and some of them changed, some of them got important roles on both sides of the court. Very aggressive, long and tough, these are compliments.”
Dzikic was then asked about the Jerusalem project, and replied: “One-year contracts for coaches and players are killing basketball. It’s not a project, it’s a project in Tenerife, when there are players for several years. You choose coaches and players and support them even in bad times when not everyone likes you. I don’t feel like I’m part of a project, with all due respect.”
“Not favourites” (FIBA)
Cornelius spoke as well. “At the beginning of the season I already said that I think we have the best crowd in the BCL,” he said, “They are with us everywhere and we really appreciate it. There is something special about this season, with this coach, with the teammates.”
Later, Cornelius commented on the situation in Israel: “I hope everything will be fine in Israel, and that there will be peace. We have been living like this for years, in every game we represent Israel and I hope we will continue to do it with respect.”
Coach Boone, Thomas Islosaid for his part: “I appreciate Džikić and I have been following him for years. Jerusalem plays with physicality and in good order. This is the fingerprint of the coach, they are a close-knit team. We saw in yesterday’s games that the intensity is almost at its maximum. There is an atmosphere from the crowd and the players will make mistakes, this Not a normal game. We worked all season to reach a high level base. In the end, it will come down to who can control the game, who manages to show their identity.”
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