Text size

With 16 days to go until the Euroleague Final Four, Alexander Gomelsky, president of host club CSKA Moscow, made his opening shot yesterday as he said his team was the favorite to lift the trophy, and that its coach Dusan Ivkovic was a superior coach to Maccabi Tel Aviv's Pini Gershon.

"CSKA Moscow is at least as good as Maccabi Tel Aviv, it has a wider range of options, it is playing at home and its players are in superb form, their best all season," Gomelsky said in an interview with Haaretz. "As far as I know Maccabi plays a lot better at home in front of a supportive crowd. That isn't going to be the situation in Moscow."

Gomelsky added that he did not agree with Ralph Klein's analysis that Maccabi coach Pini Gershon was today the top coach in Europe. "Klein is one of the most important and respected people in European basketball, but I beg to differ when he says that Pini Gershon is a much better coach than Dusan Ivkovic. Ivkovic is at least as good as Gershon, and if you ask me he is better and more experienced."

Gomelsky, who predicted that the final would be played between Maccabi and CSKA, said Tel Aviv was an excellent team, and singled out Anthony Parker and Sarunas Jasikevicius, describing them as "outstanding players of NBA standard."

Asked whether CSKA's fans would be a deterrent against Maccabi's contingent, Gomelsky said: "CSKA's fans are more correct, but Moscow will feel at home."

CSKA manager Sergei Koshnitzko had a clear message for the Maccabi fans. "I have heard reports that 5,000 Maccabi fans are coming to Moscow. I'm not so sure. If they do come though, not all of them will get in. I have heard there are a lot of fake tickets. I can promise that checks at the Olimpsky Arena will be stringent, and anyone caught with an illegal ticket will be removed from the premises."