|Triumph head coach Vasiliy Karasev: "The really hard part was the way to reach here. The final is just one game."|
In a world where it would it be possible for a coach to borrow a player of the opposing team just before the big title game, Triumph Lyubertsy head coach Vasiliy Karasev would not hesitate for a second.
"The point guard, for sure, [Andrea] Cinciarini," the Russian tactician replied to fibaeurope.com when asked which player he would like from Reggio Emilia, his team's rivals for EuroChallenge glory on Sunday in Bologna.
"He plays very aggressively, he plays good defence, he is experienced," Karasev added.
"He is a leader, and every team needs to have one, maybe not necessarily as a point guard, but a leader."
The Italian international of Reggio Emilia also thinks highly of the Triumph coach and his team.
"They look to me like a well-organised, well-trained team that can defend hard, with a lot of contact, pressing on the ball and denying passing lines.
"They, like us, like to run, as Higgins pushes the ball very well and their big men run the floor.
"So of course we have to be mindful of all those things but, at the same time, try to impose our game."
PLAY TO THE CROWD
The notion of one finalist imposing their style of play on the other on Sunday does not, unlike the flash-loan of Cinciarini, belong to the realm of a fantasy league.
This is the final of a European competition and both teams have a quite concrete idea of what the key factors in the battle for supremacy will be.
Like, for example, the fact that the big game of the 2014 EuroChallenge Final Four takes place at PalaDozza arena, only 75 kilometres away from Reggio Emilia.
"We are playing at home, we will have so many people on our side to help us feel the tiredness maybe a bit less once we step out on the court," Cinciarini said.
"Reggio is the home team, with a lot of fans and there can be pressure on our young players," was Karasev's view.
"But this is the final and I think most of our players are ready to play and our youngsters will manage to be a factor in the game too."
|Andrea Cinciarini: "We are playing at home, we will have so many people on our side to help us feel the tiredness maybe a bit less once we step out on the court."|
Another aspect of the game which both Karasev and Cinciarini identify as crucial to the outcome of the big final is the effort each team will invest on the defensive end.
"I think they [Reggio] play terrific defence, terrific," Karasev underlined.
"I've told my players that the final will be won by defence and by offence.
"It can be that nobody scores more than 60 points," he offered.
"You might miss some shots, you will for sure miss shots, but you need to give everything on defence, you must die on the court.
"We will try to start from defence and then try to play fast because they have big centers and set play will not be so good for us.
Isn't this transition game exactly what Reggio Emilia like, too?
"We are ready for their game," Karasev asserts.
"For me it's better to play this than have a static game, like in the semi-final."
Cinciarini's mindset is in perfect sync.
"If we defend really well, as we did in the semi-final, and we manage to score in transition, that is our game," the Italian playmaker said.
"We need to stay absolutely focused, maintain the same level of intensity for forty minutes, so that only we are the ones to score in the open court or score the easy points."
MAKE NO MISTAKE
Both Triumph and Reggio Emilia head into Sunday's final having achieved to stand out in one significant facet of the game each, in this year's EuroChallenge.
The Russians have taken a lot of uncontested shots in transition and have converted 47.8% of their attempts from the floor, better than any other team in the competition.
The Italians on the other hand have committed fewer turnovers than any other side in the competition, only 9.9 per contest.
"This is the final and it will be decided on details, you need to play simply and with as less mistakes as possible, because every mistake will hurt you," Cinciarini said.
"If we find open looks on offence and we don't turn the ball over by rushing things or losing our composure, we will also prevent them from scoring on the fast break.
"In this kind of game, eight or ten fast break points can be an enormous amount."
A final is indeed a very special kind of game.
So special, in fact, that it can play out in a totally unpredictable fashion, with a player or a team going completely against type to tip the balance in one direction or the other.
That doesn't mean, however, that an entire long season's playbook can be thrown out the window.
"This final is what we worked for all year," Karasev said.
"It's not the tough part though; the really hard part was the way to reach here.
"The final is just one game."