Mikko Koivisto:
I Returned To Bisons To Play In The VTB United League

Thanks to back-to-back wins, Bisons have moved up to 10th in the standings, two games back of 8th-place Nizhny Novgorod. Finnish guard Mikko Koivisto spoke with VTB-League.com about the team's upcoming game vs. CSKA, former college teammate Kyle Hines, his unusual nickname, playing for the Finnish national team and Bisons' recent success in the league.

- Bisons started the new year with two wins. You've also won five of your last eight. Is the team starting to find its groove?
- We got our first win on the road and then a good home win. There's no secret to our success: we've simply been able to execute our game plans pretty well. I think that's the main thing.

- Who's playing best on the team right now?
- We have a good rotation with different players that can step up and score points. Martin Zeno is really important for us. He can score and really pressure our opponent's best players.

- This is your first season in the VTB United League. What do you think about the level of competition?
- The league is very tough and I really enjoy playing in it. The top teams are some of the best in Europe. There is a lot of travel, which always gives the home team an opportunity to beat almost anyone on a given day.

- Who's been your toughest opponent so far?
-  I think the best teams are CSKA, Khimki, Lokomotiv and UNICS.

- The reigning league champion, CSKA, comes to Finland on Sunday. Will this be your toughest test at home this season?
- I think CSKA might be the best team in Europe right now. It's going to be a great challenge for us. At the same time, it's a game with no pressure. We'll go out there and enjoy challenging some of the best players in Europe.

- You'll be playing against former UNC-Greensboro teammate Kyle Hines. What kind of player was he in college?
- Kyle is a great player and also a great person. I often wondered how he did what he did on the court. He made my job a lot easier because other teams had to double or triple-team him. Off the court, he is very relaxed and easy to get along with. I have a lot of good memories with him.

- Why did you go to the US for college?
- I decided to do an exchange year in the US and it turned into a six year trip. It all just worked out. I enjoyed every moment of it.

- You've got an interesting nickname: La Bomba from Loimaa. Where did it come from?
- Ha ha, my old national team teammate gave me that nickname at the 2011 EuroBasket. I tried to make a floater--Navarro's trademark shot--but I missed mine really bad, which he thought was funny. Somehow it stuck with me. Maybe me being a 3-point shooter also had something to do with it.

- You've scored 10 or more points in each of your last three games and converted 50% of your 3-point attempts. What's working for you?
- In recent games, we've really gotten our transition offense to run smoothly. That allows me to get some open looks in transition. I also think we are getting better as a team running our offense. I struggled with my shot all fall, but hopefully it will turn around now.

- You knocked down a crazy halfcourt shot against Vita. Have you ever done that before?
- It doesn't happen that often. I think I've done it maybe once or twice in my career.

- If you look back on your career, what was your best game?
- I've had some really good wins with the national team. I think the 2013 EuroBasket in Slovenia was one of the most memorable. We beat Turkey, Russia, Greece and Sweden in the first round in front of the amazing Finnish fans.

- After that tournament, you decided to spend a season in Europe. What memories do you have from that experience?
-  I left Bisons in February 2014 to join Royal Hali Gaziantep. My time in Turkey was really good. The team and the whole organization was very welcoming and we played some pretty good basketball. For example, we beat Galatasaray and also made it to the EuroChallenge Final Four. After that, I played one season with Fraport Skyliners and we made it back to the EuroChallenge Final Four with them also. That season I had a lot of injuries, so I didn't play much. I have a lot of good memories from Bisons, so it was an easy decision to come back here, especially because they play in the VTB League.

- Greg Gibson has been the head coach at Bisons for many years. Did he also influence your decision to return to Finland?
- Greg and I get along really well. We have a long history at Bisons together. He's the type of coach who listens to his players and gives them freedom. That's always been one of our strengths as a team.