Pavlišević: “This is how we built Panathinaikos – Petrović was ready to come before he was killed”


His former coach Panathinaikou, Zeliko Pavlisevich, and his partner at the time, Vlasis Vlaikidis, were “hosted” on EEC WebRadio. The 72-year-old Croatian coach referred to how the foundations for Panathinaikos’ empire were laid in the two years 1991-1993. At the same time, he mentioned the collaboration with Pavlos Giannakopoulos but also him Nikos Galiswhile he talked about his near acquisition Drazen Petrovic and admitted he was wrong to… block his transfer Panagiotis Fasoula. He said in detail:

For his impressions of Panathinaikos: “I have very good memories of both Greece and Panathinaikos. It was very important for me to meet a people in the 3 years I stayed who were very friendly to me and are very basketball oriented.”

On his decision to join Panathinaikos: “At that time and as European champion I decided to come, of course with the great effort made by the manager I had in Greece, Vassilis Mendrinos, although I can say that Panathinaikos was not among my first choices at the time. At the press conference of my arrival, the three questions I received are if I know where I came as a European champion, if I know in which stadium Panathinaikos plays and if I know the team’s roster.”

On the big decision to renew the team, releasing many players who had been identified with Panathinaikos: “A saying says ‘every beginning is difficult’. That’s how it happened back then, because there was a certain… quality of the players and we wanted to make some changes that couldn’t be made immediately. So, it started to happen from the following year. From the time I arrived, I had many conversations with Pavlos Giannakopoulos, who loved the team very much and gave everything for it. After many discussions, I tried to explain to him that if we do not take the appropriate measures and are not given the appropriate means, there will be no possibility of making Panathinaikos great. It was then that the beginning was made and the foundations were laid for the subsequent course of Panathinaikos, which is known to everyone. In 1993 we won the Cup and Christos Myriounis was a “key” player in the final. Let’s not forget that even then there was the… transition of basketball from Thessaloniki to Athens. Also, with my arrival, even Olympiacos had to react and it did. He brought in probably the best Greek coach of all time, in my opinion, and that’s how a competition was created at all levels.”

For the insistence that the group move from the closed Avenue: “We were looking to find a stadium to be able to house our European dreams and for players of similar value to come, so that we could make Panathinaikos a very big team. The only solution then was to go to the Glyfada stadium and I thank Mr. Pavlos Giannakopoulos for agreeing to this and finally we went there. We had even discussed the possibility of playing the European games at “SEF”, but there were also reactions to this specific issue, because no one wanted the team to play its European games there”.

Regarding the transfer of Nikos Galis: “It is impossible not to remember about the greatest legend of Greek basketball who passed through Greece. Whatever can be said about this player is very little. We managed to bring him, thanks also to the great will of Pavlos Giannakopoulos to bring this huge player to our team. I will mention something to understand how great Galis was, not only as a player, but also as a person. That year, in addition to Nikos Galis, Arian Komazets, who was also a scorer, had also arrived. So, I sat down with Galis and told him, “A young, very good player has joined our team, who is also a scorer, and I would not like any problems to arise between you. We will have to find a formula for you to coexist”. Galis’ answer was: “Coach, I am not going to create the slightest problem. I’m interested in Arians keeping all the rules that should exist between teammates and the team. There will be no problem from me.” If you remember, that year was the first year that Galis was not 1st scorer, but 1st in assists.”

In case of acquisition of Drazen Petrovic: “With what had happened with Komazec and he had to leave, he found another team, which was Varese. Panathinaikos had also paid a part of his contract at the time. Let’s not forget that Drazen was with the Nets at the time and because he wasn’t that satisfied with his playing time, a problem arose. There were other teams that wanted to sign him, but I can say, because I talked to him all the time, that there was an offer from Pavlos Giannakopoulos for a two-year contract, in the amount of 2 million dollars for each year, plus bonuses, while in Nets were getting 2 million total per year. Because it had to be finished first and the news wouldn’t get out, very few people knew about it, the president, me, Vlasis Vlaikidis and probably Stojan Vrankovic. We were then in the final discussions and details of the contract. We spoke with him on the eve of his death. I called him in Poland where he was, from which they would return the next day. “With the conversations we had then, I can say I’m 80% sure he would have come to us because he was very disappointed with the behavior of the Nets.”

On the day of the death of Drazen Petrovic: “I want to say something that no one knows. As soon as we learned about Drazen’s death and went to the VIANEX offices early in the morning, Mr. Pavlos was literally crying like a baby. He loved the team so much that he wanted to make it very big. He believed that with the arrival of Drazen, it would be a very big start for the team to sweep everything. He had even mentioned that because this loss happened and he was actually going to sign with us, he was prepared to give the family $1 million in Drazen’s memory. The only one who had received the information about Drazen’s possible arrival was Nikos Galis. His response in this case was “Coach, the better the team is, the better it is for all of us”.

For not signing Panagiotis Fasoulas: “We were in the parking lot outside the Glyfada stadium, where we were sitting, talking and Mr. Pavlos Giannakopoulos had come. He then mentioned the possibility of Fasoulas joining the team. Then we had Volkov and Vrankovic, so with the addition of Panagiotis we would be much stronger in several matters. I believe that I was wrong that we didn’t take Fasoula, because then we would definitely have been hit with Olympiakos.”

On the night he resigned from Panathinaikos: “After the defeat by Efes in Glyfada, for 1-2 days the pressure I received was very high. During that time the war had also started in my country and all my relatives were there. There was too much pressure not only in the sports field, but also in the family. I mentioned to Mr. Giannakopoulos that I want to leave the team, but he did not accept it. Mr. Thanasis was also there. Two days later we met again and Mr. Pavlos said that he made the decision not to accept any changes regarding the team’s bench. As soon as he saw that I insisted on my decision, while he himself insisted too much on his own, he was forced to accept it. He was actually crying, that was how much this situation had affected him. Mr. Pavlos felt very bad.”

Source: Sport Fm

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