By Giorgos Adamopoulos / email@example.com
Kostas Sloukas made a move this summer that pretty much shocked the European basketball community. And it happened in the blink of an eye.
The new member of Panathinaikos confided in Eurohoops the reasons for the decision to leave Olympiakos for the “Greens”, he said that “everything happened quickly”, but he refused to mention those who guided him in the first part of his own “decision”.
The only thing he pointed out is that “Olympiakos fans have their reasons for speaking badly about me. They don’t know what has happened behind the scenes… What is written is not the whole truth.”
Kostas Sloukas admitted that he was “won over” by the “highest motivation that Panathinaikos had” and for Olympiacos, he added: “There is no discussion anywhere about participation time and role. The idea that I would ask to play two minutes more or two minutes less, I consider it at least funny…”.
“I am confident in every decision I make”
– Big decisions always involve challenge, intrigue, and a lot of discussion. How does Kostas Sloukas make the big decisions of his life and career?
“After much thought and discussion with my people, I am always 100% conscious, of whatever decision I make. And I’m confident in every decision I make.”
– Many players, especially in the NBA, say they can’t wait to feel the atmosphere of free agency. You, as one of the “hot” names in the market, how did you live it?
“It’s nice when teams approach you and show their interest because that means you’re doing something well. And especially when the biggest clubs in Europe approach you. It’s an honor and that gives me more motivation and push to continue.”
– Before the decision on Panathinaikos, were there substantial discussions with these foreign teams?
“There were many teams that showed interest, but because I didn’t want to have any discussions before talking to Olympiacos, no talks progressed.”
“Not the whole truth has been written – Panathinaikos’ motivation is higher”
– Every movement between the two major Greek basketball teams includes headlines, a lot of talk, and exaggerations. What was the process of this transition based on your mind, heart, or just logic?
“The truth is that I have said many times – and it has helped me, especially at the age of 33 – that, in this respectable career that I have had, I am not influenced and I do not generally listen to what everyone says. Everyone has their opinion and, for example, Olympiakos fans have their reasons for speaking badly about me. They don’t know what has happened behind the scenes… What is written is not the whole truth, but I only care about the opinion of my people, my family, and my friends, who are the ones I have been walking with for the last few years. I am proud to have them with me and they support me in whatever decision I make.”
– What was it or what made you accept Panathinaikos’ offer?
“Everything happened very quickly. The situation with Olympiakos also played an important role, in what people don’t know and those who should and who were present, know it. My decision is not to speak about this and I will not. The approach of Panathinaikos was very good. One of the main reasons is coach Ataman, whom I particularly appreciate. In my career, the word that characterizes me is motivation. When I saw that both Panathinaikos and I have a higher motivation to achieve something very nice, they were the main reasons for us to come together.”
– There’s a toxicity that obviously and admittedly exists. How do you athletes experience it?
“People are doing their job and we are here to do ours. The Olympiakos fans will boo me and my teammates and that’s normal. Of course, there are also extreme situations in which I am completely indifferent to what they write or say. I look at my own close family environment, which does not consist of many people, and I am interested in the opinion of my coach, my teammates, and the management. I take these seriously and they trouble me.”
– You have played against Panathinaikos, now Olympiacos will be the opponent. How do you expect that night to be, this time in “Green”?
“It won’t be easy. I have done it before with Fenerbahce and I was booed. And when I left Olympiakos, again the situations were not written exactly as they happened, just like now… This time there will be more boos. The fans do their job and Olympiakos fans love their team selflessly and give their soul for their team. We, me and my teammates, have to do our job because we are professionals and we have a common goal, to get as high as we can.”
– You have a premiere with Olympiakos in the Euroleague and a possible final in the Greek Super Cup, in a few days. Do you think it’s too early for such a special match, for all of you?
“I can’t say it’s early… There’s maybe the excuse that we’re twelve new players and a new coach, but it’s an excuse I wouldn’t like to mention. The Super Cup is the first title of the year, the motivation is very high and the atmosphere and environment of Panathinaikos, outside the lines, is such that he can’t wait to see the team compete. Expectations have been created. May we live up to expectations.”
– They say that the language of basketball is one and universal. In the vocabulary of Panathinaikos is there the well-known “patience” or “we need time” mantra, for a team with almost a dozen new players?
“In the sports fan world, I think it exists. It seems that while there is a good mix of players, it’s early and we’re still talking about preparation and we’ve had bad spells. With Efes and Bayern we got a 15-point advantage and lost it straight away. It is also logical, because of the preparation and because of the many new players. For us, the coaches and the players, however, there is no excuse because the EuroLeague is relentless, every result counts, and in the end you cash in. Therefore, every game is “life or death”.
The “relaxed Ataman”
– You were many times rivals, now “allies”. What is Coach Ataman like?
“He’s a nice guy, off the court. He is relaxed, with his style, but within the lines of the court, he has his philosophy. I experienced him when he took over Efes at its worst and in three years he made it the European champion. He had good players, but that says something about his character and his philosophy. All this has made him special and one of the best coaches in Europe and indeed of all time!”.
– Are there differences or commonalities, both competitive and approach, with your previous coaches?
“Everyone has their philosophy. Coach Ataman follows his perception of coaching ability and routine. Every coach has his own beliefs and walks through them.”
– In the summer there was a lot of talk about your role – where you play – and the label of “leader”… Who will Kostas Sloukas be in his new team?
“There is no discussion anywhere about the time of participation and the role. We haven’t spoken with my coach about it. When you are good, you will compete, when you are not, you will not play. You cannot state how much you will play. The idea that I would ask to play two minutes more or two minutes less, I consider it at least funny…”.