By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Amid the celebrations for the back-to-back EuroLeague championship title, Anadolu Efes coach Ergin Ataman addressed the war in Ukraine and how it has affected basketball as well.
“We are deeply upset with this situation,” Ataman said. “I was the first to talk about it when the war started, somebody tried to cut my words from TV. I’m very sorry. I live in Turkey with Turkish people, we are all upset seeing what’s happened in this century, in 2022 in Ukraine. I’m very sorry for my friends that work in Russian clubs, nobody talks about that. I feel bad about my three colleagues. It’s all BS politics. I hope we beat this situation as humanity like we beat the coronavirus. I’m optimistic that we can also resolve this.”
“I’m sorry for Real Madrid, they made a great game, but we knew how to manage the game, especially the last minutes because I have in the team star players who know how to play in that kind of situation. In the finals, strategy, especially offensive strategy, is not working well, you see that in all games in the Final Four. But great players can resolve situations,” he said during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four championship game, “In the last quarter, all the team made a great defense, we really solved the problems for the offensive rebounds. We had a big problem until the third quarter with offensive rebounds, we gave away a lot of points, and then we found a way to win the game.”
“Perfect game, perfect season,” Ataman described Tibor Pleiss, “He gave us also this Final Four, as you know he played great in the last game against Milan in Istanbul. We believe in him and in our system he’s very important, because he has the mid-range shot, three-point shot, rebounding. In the last seconds, he followed the ball with Larkin and Micic on the penetrations and he was great. We gave him confidence. Last year he was injured and we gave the same confidence to Sertac Sanli, and we won. This season Sertac left the team, I talked to him. ‘Why do you go to the second team? Why not stay with the champion to take one more title?’ I don’t know what he thinks about now, but it doesn’t matter. In our system it’s very important, Pleiss made a good job during the season, also Bryant Dunston with his old age, he put great character every time. In the semifinal, he played much better and made a great job. It’s a team, everybody knows his role and Pleiss made his role very good.”
“Micic is only 27 years old, he will have more career, and I believe he will have a chance to improve his record, like me. Maybe I am not young like him but we will try,” he said regarding the Final Four MVP, “He’s a good character, he’s a power point guard, he has developed incredibly during these four seasons. This season he had some ups and downs, but at the most important time, he played great. He can play defense, make difficult shots, he has good penetrations. So what else from a point guard?!”
“It’s an emotional situation right now, at the end of the season we will see. As you know in the last three or four years we changed very small things. Sanli left, we brought in Petrusev. This season Simon had a health problem, we put Elijah Bryant on the team but we didn’t cut anybody. Now at the end of the season, we will consider everything and make decisions,” the Efes play-caller peaked into the next season, “This team has made history for the club, the country, for European basketball. For now, I don’t have any idea what will happen in the summer, we will think afterward about this.”
“It’s nice to be an outsider,” he added, “I’m an outsider coach because I’m coming from Turkey. Before, nobody from Turkey made these results. I enjoy this job, I am a different kind of person. I enjoy coaching, I enjoy press conferences and interviews. Sometimes I enjoy making complaints to EuroLeague and they punish me. I give them money, I am a sponsor to them, but now I will take my bonus for the championship to enjoy my job. And if somebody considers me a good coach or not a good coach, or they say you have on your team Larkin and Micic, that’s okay, no problem.”
“You know my confidence. For me, my team is an NBA team. Okay, this season we didn’t play like an NBA team, but in the previous season and everybody knows about the season that was canceled we dominated, played great basketball. This season, so-so,” he also mentioned during the postgame press conference.
“I don’t know,” he replied jokingly to a question regarding the NBA, “Maybe it’s better to ask my son, you already know Junior Ataman. And now my family, my wife and two daughters. They already studied Miami. Maybe someone will call us and ask us, I don’t know, it’s not my decision.”