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The Great Opportunity For San Emeterio

12 April 2007

Akasvayu Girona scoring sensation Fernando San Emeterio is living the most important moment of his career this weekend at the EuroCup Final Four.

Hosts of the glamorous event at the Fontajau, Girona can make a lasting imprint on Spanish and European basketball if they beat Estudiantes in the semi-finals and then go on to capture the prestigious title.

"I am really looking forward to this competition," San Emeterio said in the Diari de Girona.

"I haven't won a big title in my career and this is the first opportunity to do so.

"To win the tournament would be a really special.

"I have won other titles, like the Catalan Cup with Akasvayu earlier this season, but this would be a great achievement."

Akasvayu fans have been able to witness big-time basketball twice a week this season because not only do Girona play in the EuroCup, they are also a leading team in arguably the toughest basketball competition in Europe, the Spanish top flight.

Girona blew a huge fourth quarter lead at home against Pamesa Valencia last weekend, dropping to fifth in the ACB standings.

It was their fifth successive setback at home.

They still have a lot of work to do before booking a place in the Spanish post-season.

"We only have in our heads this competition, which is important for every player, the club and the city of Girona," said San Emeterio.

"To win the EuroCup has been our aim since the start of the season.

"If we were to win the final on Sunday it would also give us the necessary calmness to face the last months of the ACB League, with the happiness and confidence in the work we are doing."

Six games remain in the Spanish top flight.

"It's true we have had a bad run at home and we need to find that connection between the fans and the team that we had earlier this season," San Emeterio said.

"To win a title in front of our home fans would give us a huge morale boost."

San Emeterio doesn't resonate with fans of international basketball like his team-mate, Marc Gasol, a member of Spain's gold-medal winning side at the FIBA World Championship last year in Japan.

But in Girona, he will always be remembered for having one of the best games in the history of the EuroCup.

In a February game against JDA Dijon, Emeterio scored 39 points. He made 10 consecutive three-pointers, only missing his last attempt from long range to finish the game 10 of 11.

His presence, along with that of Gasol, Lithuania international Dainius Salenga, Gregor Fucka, Spaniard German Gabriel and Ariel McDonald, would seem to make Girona favourites.

But Estudiantes did beat Girona at the Fontajau this season and are also riding an eight-game winning streak in the ACB.

"I don't think we are favourites," San Emeterio said. "It's going to be very difficult to win games.

"Our first rivals, Estudiantes, are one of the most in-form sides in the ACB right now.

"People must understand that it will be difficult to win. What is clear is that this weekend in Girona, you will have three of the most powerful teams in Europe."

Virtus Bologna, twice European champions in the past decade, take on Azovmash Mariupol in the other semi-final.

San Emeterio would not mind meeting either of those teams on Sunday, as long as it's in the title game.

"I don't care who I face in the final, as long as Girona gets to the final," he said.

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