Raphael Koumendakis on Sportish: "After the 2nd set I played around with Olympiakos, what we experienced was unique" - Sportish
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Raphael Koumendakis on Sportish: “After the 2nd set I played around with Olympiakos, what we experienced was unique”



One day after the Olympiakos volleyball team’s European Cup triumph, Raphael Koumendakis spoke to Sportish about his team’s magical journey to the top.

18 years have passed since the last European summit of the Olympiacos men’s volleyball team.

From the Cup Winners’ Cup (Top Teams Cup) in 2005 to the Challenge Cup, which he won on Wednesday evening at the sold-out SEF. Raphael Koumentakis – who played amazingly – addressed Sportish after the triumph of Olympiakos and did not hide the fact that he became a spectator of the fans after the second set and securing the trophy. “I tricked her!” he admitted.

He began with the news that emerged after winning the trophy and with humor: “Surprisingly, our trainer gave us the day off. Basically we took it with our sword! One day we will rest and on Friday we will travel to the game against PAOK“. The endless battles and ensuing goals shorten the span of this celebration that Raphael will remember forever.

The moment we experienced cannot simply be put into words. Better let the pictures do the talking. Even more, the emotions you feel and what creates the world and the atmosphere it creates cannot be described. All of this is mixed with the joy of winning the European title. It’s hard to put into words and tell you it was awesome, magical, awesome.

The impressive atmosphere at SEF

It’s something unique. The athlete constantly struggles, because in sports most often there are disappointments. It’s a moment of great happiness. Sports life is short, passes quickly and ends. There are moments that stick with you, good and bad. This will be engraved on all of us forever. I think he will stay even with the Maccabi players.

It’s the time when you can say “I climbed to the top of the mountain”. We have reached the end of a route that was not easy. It’s not that easy to win a European Championship title. I’m telling you firsthand.

We went through difficult situations. We have traveled a lot. Really, we were very tired. We had our backs against the wall in the semi-final against Panathinaikos. We filmed such a situation. We deserve it! We beat Maccabi twice.

Maccabi beat PAOK, played with good teams and reached the final, which means they are doing something good. This is not a group that came here by accident. Her presence in the European finals was not granted to her. Maccabi are also a big club and these wins against them show how difficult this path was and how much we wanted it.

We never let the final turn into a derby. Maccabi is a team that if you let them not only take advantage of it, but they won’t give you any space and make you look like a very easy opponent to them. But we were very conscious because we had gone through difficult times“.

We beat ourselves and our opponents at crucial moments

These difficult and stressful moments, the defeats or the risk of expulsion hardened the skin of the “Red-Whites” even more: “To become a title fighting team, you have to go through moments like this and fight with yourself.

Because you also fight with yourself, not only with the opponent, to emerge victorious. We beat ourselves and our opponents at crucial moments and Maccabi too at the end. We didn’t let them play their game for a moment“.

Alberto Giuliani’s players looked unstoppable after the first game against Panathinaikos. Unstoppable and determined to reach the top is how Koumentakis explained the team’s mentality and how it reacted after losing to the Greens.

Olympiacos has great personalities. It’s an honor and a pleasure to play on such a great team and I’m not selling fandom, that’s clear. And I’m not like that either. Olympiacos is a huge organization in Greece. When you are here you have to be very hard on yourself and face difficult situations. Finding a way to win because that’s the hardest part. Find a way out of a difficult situation. We did this with Panathinaikos.

We used to do the same thing with Steaua, who put us under pressure. We got out of situations like that two or three times and it shows the metal Olympiacos have. It’s hard to bend and beat him, you have to be very good for that“.

When asked if this was the team’s great gift, he replied: “I don’t want to look at us and say big words. This team has athletes who have character, I won’t say they’re cold. I will say Olympiakos athletes are fighters and fight until the last ball is played. We say that nobody has won until then.

That’s also the mentality that our coach inculcates in us, who wants every point to be played differently and every ball to be fought differently. It’s on our skin now. Every ball counts and the next one is the most important. We won’t give up even if a ball – a point – is lost or we win it. We will keep fighting for the next one. This is the greatest asset of this team“.

Travisa in the final should drink it up in the glass!

He explained that the games against Panathinaikos had a different charge, a different tension compared to the finals due to the eternal rivalry between the two teams. “Of course, the game against Panathinaikos was loaded differently due to the rivalry between the two clubs. They are a great team that came to our stadium first, deservedly won and then in the second leg had to count their first win, had to give it value. To qualify, you must also win the second time.

This is what makes Olympiacos so special. He went to Panathinaikos and won. And since I’ve heard people say about the empty stadium, let me say that no athlete wants to play without people in the stands. The athlete walks in wanting a full dish. This is his pleasure. You are balanced by the voices that are against you, the voices of the opponents. Sport is a spectacle, and to be a spectacle it needs spectators. There is no athlete who wants empty stands.

Raphael Koumentakis on  Sportish: "After the 2nd set I was fooling around with Olympiakos, what we experienced was unique"

Olympiacos turned this situation around and won the second and most important game. He won four sets in a row! That says a lot“.

The 29-year-old winger also spoke about how Dragan Travica, who was named finals MVP, inspires the team. “Ehe has a lot of experience. He is our leader, he is our leader, the one who lifts us up. He is our passer and the whole game goes through his hands, our conductor.

He pulls the whole team, that’s the difficult task of the passer who might not get many points but he’s the one who creates and builds the team.

Dragan in the final was a real conductor. He brought all his quality and experience to the pitch. The MVP title is well deserved. He was great! Whoever you ask in the team will tell you “Travitsa in the final was a drink in a glass!“.

Dit just inspires us. The man has played Champions League finals, Olympics… He doesn’t waste anything and it’s not easy to get it in your head or tell him that this team will eventually give up. If he doesn’t give up, nobody will! He’s the athlete who does the whole game for us.

He’s always talking to us. He has the first and last word and we listen to him with reverence. What he told us before the final was that we will fight until the last point is played and we won’t leave anything behind! He is the first to go into battle“.

This is definitely the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced! I fooled people and the fight wasn’t over yet

Raphael will never forget the time of great joy. He will forever remember what he was doing the moment Olympiacos clinched the Challenge Cup title when he also won the second set. “To be honest, when the second set in the final was over and we had lifted the trophy, I found myself turning around several times afterwards and looking at the stands.

I became a spectator of spectators. I looked at the people in SEF. It’s nice to say it, to say over the full stadium, ‘Say! Go!”. But living it is another thing. Be inside, live it from within! It’s what I said before. Olympiakos is a huge organization in Greece and it’s seen everywhere and everywhere.

Raphael Koumentakis on  Sportish: "After the 2nd set I was fooling around with Olympiakos, what we experienced was unique"

We feel great gratitude and happiness that we play at Olympiakos, that we played in such a stadium, that we won a European title with this world and we won it.

It’s definitely the best atmosphere I’ve experienced in my career and I hope it won’t be the last. At one point I fooled people, I fooled them, and the fight wasn’t over yet.

I was so engrossed in what was happening in the stands that it took me a few minutes to say, ‘Ehhh, Raphael, the game is still being played! It’s 2-0, but you have to play.” This is the greatest joy an athlete can experience, regardless of victories“.

From this rise I will keep away those who have doubted us. Those who didn’t believe us

The year for the “red and white” didn’t end with the European title, it goes on. As explained by Koumendakis, Olympiacos are keeping their red counters open.

In sport you tend to have defeats and that kind of thing comes along and wipes them out, gives you wings. They say “there are big wins too”. And you keep going, you don’t stop there. Especially in Olympiacos you can’t get carried away or that’s enough and you say I don’t care about the league or the cup. That does not exist! Everyone understands it, even the least connected to sport.

Olympiacos are the star and will be the star when we go. Its size is big. There is no saturation. This title whets the appetite. You think: I want this and that, I want more! The most addictive thing in sports is winning. When you win a game, you want to win them all“.

From the top of the mountain on which he is, he will not only look ahead, but only the prospect of the next goals. He will also remember the climb his team climbed.

From this rise I will keep away those who have doubted us. Those who didn’t believe us, those who said they won’t make it past Panathinaikos and reach the end. i keep them They are my motivation to prove to them again and again that we will be chasing every goal here until the last ball falls. If you are capable and better you will beat us otherwise we will win. I’ll take that with me. Doubt is also fuel for the athlete to keep going.

From what I live now – from above – I want to seize this moment, live it. To keep all these beautiful pictures, to have them with me and to stay with me. And of course let it get more and more!

Source: sport 24

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Raptis and Milenkoski supporters gave the title to PAOK




Kostas Holidis writes about the great performance of Alexandros Raptis, who however had the valuable help of his teammates to lead PAOK to the title against Olympiakos.

PAOK lifted their fifth trophy in their history on Saturday night after beating Olympiakos 3-1 in an impressive final.

However, Dikefalos took that particular trophy, and whoever wins it later in the year, well before that. When Josko Milenkoski was ready to leave, the team management decided to support him and the result justifies it.

Since then, PAOK have steadily improved and confirmed in Kalamata that they are the best team in Greece this season.

The Tailor’s Rhapsody

We couldn’t start the finale’s commentary from anything other than MVP. Last summer, Alexandros Raptis left Panathinaikos for PAOK.

The reason; To find a stable and important role in a team that is aiming for the title. At the age of 23, Alexandros Raptis performed like a dream.

He held the slot, attacked with 76% spatiality (25/33 attacks with just one miss) and three aces. What more could Milenkoski ask of his winger, who stopped at 28 points.

The team turned the tables

As the MVP, Alexandros Raptis said in his statements, the whole team had to do a lot of work for him to make this appearance.

In particular, Kokkinakis and Giorna swept the back zone, Walsh did an excellent job splitting the game after the first set, Skrentau and Voulkidis helped with blocking and attacking, while Den Dries’ contribution was also important.

The stats might say that the Belgian had 30% attacking with 12/40, but he helped with his serves as well as his blocks (4).

Everyone worked to ensure PAOK could turn the tide of the first set and claim the title.

The decisive point of the final

The final was undoubtedly decided in the second half of the third set. Olympiacos entered first 17-13, but the rest belonged entirely to PAOK.

Dikephalos managed to run away 12-4 at this point, with Dan Dries and Rapti doing an excellent job on offense. A pressing serve and an excellent block defense led PAOK to surprise.

PAOK essentially confirmed the image it had shown us in the game series against Panathinaikos, playing excellently and having many protagonists.

Shorted from Travica, low flying from Hidalgo

Now we come to the defeated Olympiakos. Giuliani’s players traveled to Kalamata in high spirits, just as they did after qualifying against Panathinaikos in the Challenge Cup semifinals.

However, in the final against PAOK, only in the first set did they show the image we’ve been accustomed to seeing them for the last month or so. In the third shot on goal, they simply took advantage of Dikefalos’ many mistakes, but also their excellent block.

But what was the big problem of Olympiacos? The main thing was that it clouded Travis’ mind. The big passer saw that Stern was having a good day (Slovene had 17/37 attacks) and attacked him.

In fact, he overwhelmed him as he took more balls than Pagenk (11), Koumentakis (15) and Linardos (7) combined. At the same time, Hidalgo appeared to be fully read by the PAOK block, breaking many balls in his attacks, with the Cuban counting disappointing 8/26 attacks.

Both titles the next day

The Cup Final Four concluded as PAOK received a huge psychological injection for the sequel. Dikefalos and Olympiacos are likely to be the couple in the championship final.

Both lead 2-0 each against Panathinaikos and Milos, so they only need one win to clinch the title, with Olympiakos having the home field advantage.

At the same time, we must not forget that the Red-Whites also have the League Cup final with Panathinaikos, which may have less prestige, but especially when the Greens are no longer fighting for the championship, they will want it more.

Anyway, for about 45 more days we will watch great duels in men’s and women’s volleyball.

Source: sport 24

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Kokkinakis: ‘We had a hard time, we got a big trophy’




Kokkinakis, in his testimony after PAOK won the cup, referred to the difficulties his team had endured during the season.

PAOK defeated Olympiakos 3-1 to win the Greek Cup. This is the seventh trophy in the institution for Kokkinakis, who spoke about Dikephalos’ troubles this year.

The statements of Kokkinakis:

“It’s the seventh trophy for me. I’m proud and happy for my team. We had a difficult time, we didn’t play the volleyball we wanted, we didn’t give up.

We got a big trophy, well deserved. We played hard as a team. That is the most pleasant, the most touching. That’s what all athletes live for. I’m glad God deserved that I won seven trophies. Congratulations to Olympiakos for the European Championship. He needs it, he wants it.

We have achieved something big with PAOK. We don’t have time to party, that’s professionalism. The team didn’t start well. You know how it is in Greece. Everyone is in a hurry. We believed in our abilities. But we have it, so I’ll remember it.”

Source: sport 24

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Giuliani: “PAOK played very well, they are in excellent form”




Olympiacos coach Alberto Giuliani argued after the conclusion of the cup final against PAOK that Thessaloniki side are in excellent form and won fairly.

Olympiacos coach Alberto Giuliani congratulated the Thessaloniki team on winning the title after the cup final against PAOK, arguing that PAOK are having an excellent season.

Characteristically, the Italian technician emphasized:

“PAOK played very well during the game, we suffered a lot. I think the counterattack made the difference. PAOK was good at the rallies that were in the game. They played well. There is a team in form in every period .This is the moment of PAOK who is in great shape now.

Now we must come back. Let’s quickly finish the semi-finals of the championship with Milos and have time to prepare for the final.”

Source: sport 24

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