Ataman: “Everyone told me that it would not be good for me to take over Panathinaikos, I told them not to worry”

Ataman: “Everyone told me that it would not be good for me to take over Panathinaikos, I told them not to worry”

He spoke for everyone and everything Ergin Ataman! His coach Panathinaikos AKTOR he was hosted on Tsima Moneke’s YouTube channel and answered questions about his career as a whole but of course also about his terrible first season in Greece with the “clover”.

What he said in detail:

For coaching: “It’s hard work, I love coaching, it’s my life. I started at the age of 22 and in Efes as an assistant and at the age of 30 I was the first coach and went to the finals in Turkey. I don’t have a lot of pressure, for me it’s fun, it’s work but also a hobby.”

On who influenced him in coaching: “I played basketball, I wanted to be a pro but I wasn’t good enough to do it. Then I was given the opportunity to coach teams at young ages from the age of 22. I learned a lot from Aydin Ers. When I felt ready at the age of 29, I stepped up as the first coach.”

On his proudest moment: “I have many proud moments. I was the first Turkish coach who, at the age of 33, coached a team in Italy, in Siena. It was a dream for me. At the first press conference there and when they asked me about my goals, I told them that I came to win the Saporta Cup. And the other day they wrote in the newspapers “let’s see how many days this coach will last”. And then in the middle of the season we got Saporta, the next season we played in the Euroleague and one season after that we were in the Final Four of the Euroleague. For me it was terrible. I like challenges. In my first year at Galatasaray we won the first title after 27 years. At Besiktas, after 57 years, we won everything. The Cup, the championship and European”.

On the doubts towards him and how he uses them: “I like talking to people on the street. In Athens I used to go to the beach in the summer to swim in the winter. And they would see me and wonder what I was doing there. Nothing! I am a simple person and enjoy life. And so does my family. And my son is always with me in the locker room. And with the players I’m like a friend, but other times I’m tougher but I respect them, their life. They are not machines. I’m the coach but I don’t play… playstation. I work with people, I respect them and if they respect me everything is clear.”

On Ataman’s differences as a person and as a coach: “I’m relaxed off the court. You might see me arguing with someone on the court but that’s about basketball. That doesn’t happen off the field. I fight, I fight for glory, for my team, my players. I always fight on the field to show my players as a leader that they should too. Sometimes the referees send me off, but everything is done according to plan. The players need to see that he wants to win and exudes passion. I like to pass that on to my players.”

For his raised fists celebration: “Basically, I don’t remember how this started, it happened gradually. Then I saw that people liked it and I continued it. This is emotion, communication with the fans. I like to give them my passion. It’s something special for me. Even when I lose, in Barcelona when we were eliminated, I still showed my fists because I show that I don’t give up. But in the final we will win and in the end we won the title with Efes”.

On whether he regrets anything: “There is nothing special. I’m happy. Maybe the back-to-back with Efes and the season that was canceled due to the coronavirus, which was probably our best season. Everyone was talking about how we played like an NBA team. They asked me afterwards why don’t you go to the NBA? I am here. If I can make a European team with foreign and American players play like an NBA team, why can’t I do it there. To be afraid to do it there too? At that time I thought that a proposal might come and it was a strong emotional moment for me. But then I saw that there is a different mindset. I talked to some managers, they told me that I should go there (USA) to be an assistant for some years. I am European champion for two years in a row, how can I do this? European basketball is something different, a mix with the NBA and I really like it.”

On winning the Euroleague with Panathinaikos and what convinced him to join the team: “At the beginning when I had this proposal, everyone told me that it is not good for me. You are a two-time European champion, one year you didn’t make it. Take a team from 17th place that hasn’t been to a Final Four in twelve years and the fans have lost some faith in the club. But I had a great intuition in my first meeting with Dimitris Giannakopoulos. He is a different person, with a lot of passion and he respects me a lot.

When he made me the offer I immediately accepted it and set myself a challenge. I said I won’t work with the team that finished 17th, but I want to change everything. They were telling me, how are you going to change 10-11 players? I told them not to worry because I had done the same in Ephesus in 2018 when I went there. So we built a very good team, with personalities and players with character.

Everyone thought we spent too much budget. We may have 1-2 more expensive players but the rest are in the normal budget. But because they are eleven new players, many believe they cost as much as Slukas. Kostas was a different case. He was one of the stars of the Euroleague, the key player for our rival, Olympiakos, and then we built our team with good characters. When we started the season we realized that we were missing something. What was; Kendrick Nunn. He was free and gave us a lot offensively. Defensively we did a great job the whole staff with the players.

And gradually we built our confidence. We set a record for away wins and that gave us confidence going into the playoffs. We believed in ourselves more and the victory at Real’s home was very important. And that’s how we got to the Final Four and the final. I didn’t know if we would be champions but for me it was incredible. To go from 17th place to the final was amazing for all of us.”

Source: Sport Fm

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