By Yiğit Alp Kalkancı / firstname.lastname@example.org
Fenerbahce BEKO Istanbul blew out Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and mathematically qualified for the EuroLeague playoffs. For Panathinaikos head coach Rick Pitino, his team’s performance was one he’d like to forget.
“I would like to throw myself to the Marmara Sea tonight,” Pitino said in the post-game presser.
While Pitino was far from happy with how his team played, he had only the best to say for Fenerbahce. He was particularly praising when asked if the Turkish side would play in the NBA.
“They wouldn’t be able to play the team defense they are playing in the NBA. They are shooting the ball better than all NBA teams, except the Golden State Warriors. When you think about it, their passes and shots are better than a lot of NBA teams. I don’t know if they would be able to play in the NBA, because the spacing is different. The game is different in the NBA and the EuroLeague. The rules are also different,” said the 66-year old head coach.
On EuroLeague in general, Pitino said: “I like the EuroLeague very much, I enjoy it. I have learned a lot, I add a lot to myself in terms of both offense and defense. The only point I don’t like is to come in the middle of the season. There was a coach here who was sent before me. This is a sad situation. I can’t do what I want because of the season, because there are two matches. I came here as a savior, I don’t think long-term. For coaches, as far as we win everything is fine, but I would like to throw myself to the Marmara Sea tonight. I don’t think I can come here anytime soon. I was very pleased to come to Turkey. I am very pleased with the interest of the press and the supporters. I’m going to Spain, and these are going to be special experiences for me.”
In addition, he also talked about the arena’s atmosphere: “I love the atmosphere. The fans here are much different than the NBA, they are like college basketball fans. They’re very passionate like the fans in the top five college team fans. Zalgiris, Maccabi, and Panathinaikos have very passionate supporters. There is no such atmosphere in the NBA. This is what makes EuroLeague more special than the NBA.”
As for the poor game of his team, he said the following: “Although you lose in some matches, the way you play doesn’t upset you. But for the first time, I’m sorry for the way we played tonight. We’re not the team which can shoot, but today we stubbornly shoot a lot, our energy has fallen with missing shots. If you’re not such a team, you shouldn’t be stubborn. I’m sorry about the performance of my team. The matches you played away are an important indicator of your performance.”
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