Ergin Ataman on getting to the EuroLeague Final: “This locker room is amazing”

2024-05-24T21:53:00+00:00 2024-05-24T21:53:00+00:00.

Cesare Milanti

24/May/24 21:53

The Turkish head coach underlined his team’s unity after beating Fenerbahce to get to the championship game

By Cesare Milanti /

BERLIN, Germany – After 13 years, Panathinaikos is back to the championship game in the EuroLeague Final Four. In his first season in charge of the Greek powerhouse, Ergin Ataman managed to push his side one win away from the 7th EuroLeague title in the club’s history.

After Sarunas Jasikevicius, it was time for the Turkish coach to take the microphone in the post-game press conference. “I think that for the vast majority of the game we were under control, we put our strategy on the court. We started the game excellent, with an amazing defense”, he first said.

After a great 12-0 start, Panathinaikos slowed down. “On offense, we moved the ball really well. After that, we started to take some unnecessary shots, and some turnovers. Fenerbahce came back, especially with Nigel Hayes-Davis, their pick-and-pop created some problems for us”, he stated.

Underlining his team’s biggest strength, Ergin Ataman spoke highly of his players. “The locker room of this team is amazing, people understand basketball very well. Defense always is with you. Players like [Kostas] Sloukas are having a great defensive season because they saw that everybody are doing a great job”, the former Anadolu Efes coach also added.

Asked what he told his players before the game, the answer was simple. “Don’t think this is a Final Four game. Think this is one single game we must win. That’s all. So far all season we have been the best defensive team in the EuroLeague, so put this aggressivity on the court. It’s my sixth Final Four. When you focus well on the game and the players respect your decisions, everything is easy”, he said.

Finally, he praised Mathias Lessort, who had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds against the yellow-and-blue powerhouse. “Mathias [Lessort[ showed this character in Partizan as well. And this is one of the most important reasons he was our key transfer, the first transfer. My decision was to bring him first”, he first commented about the French center.

Later on, he spoke highly of his attitude. “He’s an energy, aggressive player. Sometimes he’s not the classic center, but he gives all of his hustle on the court. Basketball is like this. You need hustle, I’d be more happy if he would improve on free-throw shooting. He will be ready for the Final to make these free throws”, he finally said, smiling.

Watch the full Panathinaikos-Fenerbahce press conference:

PHOTO CREDIT: Eurokinissi

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