Kalentzou Focus Only On Second Leg


Sony Athinaikos will carry an eight-point advantage into the second leg of their EuroCup Women Final against Nadezhda Orenburg in Greece on Thursday.

However, the players for both sides know that a lot can happen in 40 minutes of basketball.

Dimitra Kalentzou (Greece)
Dimitra Kalentzou was influential in the Greek run to qualify for the World Championship and she is just as important for Athinaikos

For the Athinaikos fans preparing to show up at the game, be prepared for a Russian team that will pull out all stops to win.

One of the stars of the Sony Athinaikos side is point guard Dimitra Kalentzou.

The 32-year-old, who will play for Greece at the FIBA World Championship for Women later this year in the Czech Republic, had 18 points in the 65-57 first-leg triumph for Athinaikos.

Kalentzou gave this interview to Jeff Taylor for FIBA Europe.

Congratulations on a great win in Orenburg, Dimitra. Were you able to celebrate at all after such an important result?

Dimitra: Thank you, but the celebrations are over until the second leg on Thursday. We have 40 more minutes to play so we have to wait.

Seriously, might there be a danger that you and the other players may start to dream of a title before it's won? In other words, what will the concentration level be like for Athinaikos as you prepare for the second leg?

Dimitra: There is a danger only if we lose our minds. But since landing back in Athens, we have been 100% focused on the preparation for the second leg. I think if our concentration level is the same like the first leg, we're going to get the result.

What do you think is on the mind of Nadezhda Orenburg coach Vladimir Koloskov?

Dimitra: I believe after the first loss, coach Koloskov has the experience to make some changes in tactics for the second game. The coach will see what went wrong and he will decide.

It's hard to look at this Athinaikos team and not think back to last summer when Greece earned a fifth-place finish at the EuroBasket Women. Are you and the other Greek national team players in the Athinaikos squad better after winning so many important games last year in Latvia?

Dimitra: Of course it was helpful because the level and the toughness at the EuroBasket in Latvia gave us an image about what we have to face in the EuroCup. Even though many players from the EuroBasket are now playing now in the EuroCup, we know how to play against them.

Your coach, George Dikeoulakos, says that you have a very high I.Q. Does that mean that one day, you will coach basketball?

Dimitra: "Thank you, Coach." Right now, I am a basketball player and I am trying to think this way. It is impossible for me to predict the future, but I am positive in this idea.

This season has been very different for you personally as you live in Athens, three hours away from your husband and daughter. What has that challenge been like?

Dimitra: It is only two hours driving. Because we travel a lot, I don't have the chance to go there very often but when Maria doesn't have school, she is always with me. It's difficult... but it's our way of living...I am a professional basketball player.

How has the success of the national team and now, the wins by Athinaikos, helped women's basketball in Greece?

Dimitra: For sure it was helpful because lot of people right now know more about women's basketball in Greece. The Greek national team during the summer and now my team, Athinaikos, help the Greek basketball fans to understand that the progress in women's basketball has been very big the last three years.


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