By John Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Pitino traveled back to Greece on Tuesday. He discussed his return to Panathinaikos OPAP and connecting his new job with the Greek national team ahead of the Olympic Qualifying tournament this summer. It was already reported that only the official announcement from the Greens is pending to confirm his hiring.
“Dimitris gives me a lot more than money,” he said commenting on making his way back to Panathinaikos and his relationship with team owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos, “He gives me respect and control. At my age that is much more important than dollars.”
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer landed in Greece for the first time last December. He turned the season around for the Greens ultimately capturing the Greek league and the Greek Cup, also led Panathinaikos to the EuroLeague playoffs.
Talking to reporters at Athens’ airport, Pitino also hinted towards a longer tenure in his second term, “I am hoping to stay for two years.”
This time around Pitino meets Panathinaikos at 6-4 in EuroLeague and 8-0 in Greece’s Basket League. First game up is on Thursday versus KIROLBET Baskonia in Athens.
“Offensively they are doing an outstanding job. Now we have to pick up the defense,” Pitino took out on his team’s current situation, “If the defense matches the offense, good things will happen.”
“I don’t think any moves have to be made” he added referring to the squad.
Keeping tabs with Greek national team players
The 67-year-old American will attempt to lead the Greek national team to success as well. The Greek basketball federation did not hold him to a clause that would prevent him from working at the club level as well.
“I could be here watching Maccabi play, watching Olympiacos, watching where our players are playing right now,” he mentioned on the national team, “I could watch all the players play and put together a good team.”