At the beginning of the week, PETTERI KOPONEN took a short holiday near Turku on the southwest coast of Finland but before he left, the new FCBB-Guard spoke about his move to Munich.
Petteri, welcome to FC Bayern, what were your motives for choosing the offer from Munich?
Petteri Koponen: "The move to Munich is a great new challenge for me. Bayern Munich is a club that is strongly positioned for the future in order to become a big-time team. I hope to be a part of it and help the club reach the next level. It's a great experience for me to have these new goals for the next three years and achieve something big."
You only terminated your contract in Barcelona at the end of June, then contacts with the FCBB quickly intensified... .
Petteri Koponen: . . . yes, in this business it sometimes happens very quickly. After deciding not to stay in Barcelona, I sat down with my family and my consultant to discuss what might be the right option. When Bavaria signaled its interest and we spoke for the first time, I was quickly attracted by this new challenge. As I said, this is one of those organisations to which the future belongs and which is taking great strides forward. Of course I also asked around and everyone spoke very positively about the club and how beautiful Munich is as a city; for example Henrik Dettmann, who coached the German national team. I just think Bavaria can be one of the best European teams and I want to support the project."
It is known that you are a strong long-range shooter. How would you characterize yourself otherwise?
Petteri Koponen: "I talked to the coaches and of course I know that I should bring in other things than shooting. On the national team I played more with the ball like a Point Guard, in Barcelona I was more of a shooter. We'll see exactly what role I'm going to play when the season starts. But I will try to support the team on offense and defense with my experience and skills."
It is noticeable that you have concluded longer-term contracts in the past and also now, which is rather unusual.
Petteri Koponen: "Yes, I was in Bologna for four years, then four in Moscow and now two in Barcelona. In fact, I'm proud that I've always felt very close to the club and the team I played for. It's the same now with Bavaria. Having committed here for three years makes me proud."
You will give a press conference in Helsinki next week about your move to Munich, because you are very popular in your home country. How important is basketball in a country whose heroes are winter sportsmen, ice hockey players or racing drivers?
Petteri Koponen: "Apart from the fact that people are fortunately following my personal path intensively, basketball has grown in the last few years. With the national team we have achieved good results and the kids are playing basketball more and more often. Of course, I'm happy that people in Finland are interested that I'm now playing for Bavaria for three years and thus continue to play in the EuroLeague. And of course there are a lot of strong teams in the EuroLeague. But I believe that we too will be a very good and dangerous team.
You will be the player with the most EuroLeague experience in Bavaria. What does your new team have to prepare for?
Petteri Koponen: "The new format of the EuroLeague is naturally tough. In the past, there was the group stage and thus also games that did not really count. Now you have to be ready from start to finish - every game is important. You can't start badly and you can't stop badly. There will be many games, several times even three per week, plus many trips. You have to be mentally and physically ready for that. But it's up to us to get along with it and I also want to help with my experience.
For the BBL, too, the arrival of a player of your quality can be seen as a positive signal, how do you rate the German league?
Petteri Koponen: "There was contact a few years ago, but in the end I didn't move to Germany. There is always a great atmosphere in most halls, you can see that. I'm really looking forward to this league. I played against the German national team a lot, now I'm looking forward to the BBL. I played with Khimki at the Audi Dome a few years ago. We lost - but later we won the title."
Do you already know some of the Bayern players?
Petteri Koponen: "Nihad Djedovic played in Rome when I was younger and with Bologna. Otherwise I know all the players, of course, but not personally. We'll have plenty of time to get to know each other, and I look forward to it."