19 September, 2017
06 May, 2018
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AS Monaco and AEK wait for the showdown: "You dream of playing a Final like this!"

ATHENS (Basketball Champions League) - Stage is set, the best team of the Regular Season takes on the drama kings in the Final of the Basketball Champions League.

AS Monaco stormed to a 13-1 in Group A, before hopping over the hurdles called Stelmet Enea Zielona Gora, Banvit and MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in their dash to the finish line. AEK had a completely different path, clinching Play-Offs in the final seconds of the Group Stage, then surviving a triple of dramatic encounters with CEZ Nymburk, SIG Strasbourg and UCAM Murcia.

But no matter how they got there, they will come prepared for the big Final. Crowd of 18,000 will be backing up AEK, Monaco are hoping they will make the yellow-and-black fans silent by the end of the game on Sunday.

They said: "For the past 10 days we've been preparing for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, all of our focus was on them and the Semi-Finals, which is the most important game if you want to go all the way. Now we have only a day to scout AEK, our analysis and tactics aren't at the highest level right now. But the most important thing will be how will my players react when they take this crowd on. We need to stay focused, try not to burn out, stay cool, but play with a lot of emotion." - Zvezdan Mitrovic, AS Monaco head coach

"This will be something completely new for us, we don't get this kind of audience in France. (Laughs) This is a dream for us. When you're playing any sports, you are dreaming of going after a European trophy in front of a crazy crowd. We know AEK will feed off of their energy, but we are hoping to do the same, too, take a part of that atmosphere for our inspiration." - Paul Lacombe, AS Monaco player

Crazy Atmosphere in 🇬🇷!

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"We are under no pressure at all. The pressure was on for the Semi-Finals, but (on Sunday) we'll be relaxed. This is what we really dream about. I grew up in ex-Yugoslavia, so I know what's going on in Balkans at these games, whether it's Buducnost (Podgorica), Partizan, Crvena Zvezda or Zadar, all amazing atmospheres. (The Final on Sunday) will be a big part of our lives, and careers." - Zvezdan Mitrovic, AS Monaco head coach

"Winning the Basketball Champions League is our main goal this season. We secured the first seed for the Play-Offs in France, the next mission there is to perform well in the Play-Offs because we didn't have a lot of "luck" there over the past couple of seasons. But first and foremost, we want to win the Basketball Champions League. We want that trophy in our hands." - Mitrovic again

"(Manny Harris and Kevin Punter) will be tough assignments for us. They can score from all positions on the court, they can do everything with the ball in their hands, and the key for us will be to hold them under their season averages. It won't be just myself, Gerald Robinson, Chris Evans... If we defend them as a team, we can do it, we can stop them. We are ready for a big battle." - Lacombe on guarding the best scorers of the Basketball Champions League

"Murcia are a great team, we cannot forget that now that we are in the Final. On Saturday, my guys looked like they were in a street fight because of that game. And Monaco are even better than Murcia." - Dragan Sakota, AEK head coach

"Playing the Semi-Finals and Finals has it's pros and cons. Pros for the Semi-Finals are that you can take a lot of time to prepare for your opponent, but there still is a lot of pressure, and it takes some time getting used to the arena, the fans and everything else. For the Final, it's vice-versa. You don't have the time to prepare for your opponent, but you know what to expect psychologically." - Dusan Sakota, AEK team captain

"The mobile phones are not off. They are just on silent mode." - Dragan Sakota, AEK head coach, speaking about the surrounding pressure of playing such a big game at home

"I didn't turn off my phone. In fact, I'd like to use this opportunity to thank all of our fans, when you see them, when you see all the messages on social media, that's what motivates me. I draw of lot of power out of it." - Dusan Sakota, a quote perhaps explaining why he's the captain

Previous matchups: AS Monaco and AEK will go out on a third date on Sunday night. They met at OAKA in the Round of 16 last season, AEK escaping with a 69-68 win on Dusan Sakota's big game. Captain ended up with 20 points to his name.

"For sure, that experience will be helpful on Sunday. Monaco have the same coach, he's kept the same kind of basketball philosophy, his team is once again tough, aggressive no matter what their position on the court is, but I know things about them from our two games last season. I will try and use it to my advantage now," Sakota said.

However, Monaco escaped victorious after the second rendezvous. A 95-87 was powered by Jamal Shuler's 20 points. Amara Sy and Sergii Gladyr are still with AS Monaco. Dusan Sakota, Giannoulis Larentzakis and Dimitris Mavroeidis are still at AEK.

Key numbers: Two completely different teams when it comes to ball distribution. AEK assist on just 55 percent of their made shots, ranking them in the bottom third of the entire competition. Monaco are passing the ball a lot better, 67.3 percent of their made shots coming after a pass, which puts them among the Top 5 of the Basketball Champions League. If Monaco repeat the feat of 27 assists they had against MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in the Final, it might be just a bit too much for AEK's defense to handle.

Key matchup: Kevin Punter against Gerald Robinson. Robinson has been Monaco's leading guy in the Play-Offs, proving time and time again he can be that go-to guy when the going gets tough for the French Jeep Elite League leaders. His defense will also come to play, getting the tough assignments on Manny Harris and/or Punter, who has scored 15+ points in 18 of his 21 Basketball Champions League games this season.

When and where: Sunday, May 6, 19:30 CET (20:30 local) OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall, Athens.