Partizan captain Kevin Punter opens up in an interview with MozzartSport about this season, and his relationship with coach Zeljko Obradovic.
From the moment he put on the black and white uniform, he was always the number one option on offense for the Serbian team. Never backing down from pressure situations, sometimes he misses (like against Crvena Zvezda), and sometimes he destroys opposing defenses (like against Panathinaikos)
“I’m aware of the criticism, but I don’t pay attention to it because I know I have the confidence to take that shot and I’m confident I’ll hit it when the time comes. People will always talk about whether I should have kicked or not at that moment. It’s their right and they should talk, but the comments don’t affect my confidence. I’m not afraid of shots in important situations or misses, and I think that sets me apart from the rest. I love those moments and I know that I will want to have the ball in my hands again when the match breaks“.
As he admits, he can always rely on the advice of Zeljko Obradovic, at whose invitation he came to Partizan.
“We have a great relationship. Obradovic is an outstanding expert and person. Can we sometimes annoy each other? Definitely. I’m sure he’s furious with some of my decisions on the pitch, and so am I. He sees some things from the side that I don’t see on the floor or vice versa, I see something from a different angle, but it doesn’t matter, because we have an honest relationship. A really great relationship. Whether it’s day or night, I can always call him and talk to him about whatever I want, about basketball, life, whatever, Obradović is there and that’s something that I greatly appreciate.”
We are witnessing that every year more and more American basketball players decide to find happiness in Europe. Why is that so, we asked Panther, who first arrived in Europ in 2016.
“The social network. I think that’s the key. More and more American basketball players can see what life looks like in Europe, where extremely high-quality basketball is played. We see guys with NBA talent playing Euroleague. Personally, whenever I come back to the USA, I tell them, you can be successful in Europe, forget about the money, it will definitely come, and you will be able to show everyone that you have talent. That you can win, and with such success comes money. I am an example of that, it is enough for people to look at how I started and where I am now. It’s far from home, but when you look at the bigger picture, you’ll make a career.”
Kevin did not miss the arrival of fantastic names in the ABA league, especially Fakunda Kampac and Luka Vildoza.
“Exactly, fantastic competition. Come here and prove yourself against quality teams, and fierce competition. Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to play in America, why don’t you come here and show yourself in full glory.”
The story had a natural continuation, the captain of Partizan himself touched on the differences between the NBA league and the Euroleague.
“Fans, interactions with fans. In the NBA, you don’t interact with the fans, except maybe in the Finals. I haven’t been to an NBA game in years, but during the regular season, it’s more of an event to be seen. People put on the most beautiful suits, put on sunglasses, and jewelry, and you have restaurants in the halls, the game is not in the foreground, but the whole event and the prestige of being part of it are. In Europe it is completely different, here the fans are only interested in the game, they react to every basket, and every contact, and they are interested in every second of the match. Everyone knows that.”
Two places in Europe are specific.
“Serbia and Greece are special countries in terms of fans, expectations… let me express myself and pressure.” I played in Italy, with all due respect to Italy, a predictable country, great for a career, but everything is relaxed there. No drama, no pressure, no journalists waiting for you every game hahaha. . . I also played in Poland, and Belgium, but definitely Serbia and Greece stand out.”