Rick Pitino clears the air on UCLA rumors and NBA return

2019-01-04T23:09:56+00:00 2019-01-04T23:52:28+00:00.

Dionysis Aravantinos

04/Jan/19 23:09


Rick Pitino cleared the air on the reports linking him back to the NCAA and the UCLA Bruins.

By Dionysis Aravantinos / info@eurohoops.net

In his second Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game, Rick Pitino could not overcome Olympiacos Piraeus obstacle, as Panathinaikos OPAP’s rivals were the superior team on Friday night. After the final buzzer, the 66-year old head coach addressed the media.

Reports in the States, have Rick Pitino possibly going back to the NCAA and coaching the UCLA Bruins. However, he states that his goal is to return to the NBA, but currently his only focus is for Panathinaikos to make the EuroLeague playoffs: “When I left last year, I said I wanted to go back to the NBA, and that’s why I took this job (at Panathinaikos), but right now to be honest, I’m not thinking of anything except trying to make the playoffs with this organisation. It’s not easy for a coach to come in and does not know the offense, defense and out of bounds plays. I have to find new ways, in order to win. I miss my family, but overall I am having a great time here. The owner has been great to me, and I am focused to be the coach here.”

He also talked about the Greek rivalry, and according to the hall of fame coach, it is the best thing he has ever seen in basketball: “I think it’s great. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in basketball, in my 41 years of coaching. We had 150 people cheering in our bus today. The chants in the arena, were not too kind, but I learned those words when I grew up in New York city. Their crowd was awesome. The rivalry is very special, we don’t have this anywhere. Nowhere. You also don’t have 100 policemen in basketball games with shields. It is quite special, both organizations have a great following, and Im really privileged to be here and experience this as a coach.”

In addition, he commented on the loss to Olympiacos: “To win on the road, you have to be 6-8 points better and we weren’t. This team (Panathinaikos) is a little bit challenged. They have a hard time scoring, and if they are not good defensively, it also becomes more difficult offensively. Our personnel is such that we can’t sit around and watch one guy play. We need more motion offensively. I’m going to have to make some changes offensively, for more cutting and slashing. None of our bigs shot a free-throw. I believe that Olympiacos‘ defence pushed as out of our offense almost every possession. They were physically knocking us out of our offense. You have to give them the credit. We have to learn to win on the road. You have to be very aggressive, but we learned a lot from tonight’s game. We played hard, but not well.”

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