Andreas Pistiolis: “The magnitude of Galatasaray is what makes it appealing”

2022-03-24T12:15:29+00:00 2022-03-24T12:15:29+00:00.

Mehmet Bahadır Akgün

24/Mar/22 12:15

Andreas Pistiolis took over Galatasaray NEF, and he is extremely ambitious to take his new club to the higher grounds of Turkish basketball in his first stint as a head coach.

By Semih Tuna & M. Bahadır Akgün /

Andreas Pistiolis was a longtime friend and assistant of CSKA Moscow head coach Dimitris Itoudis. Well, they are still friends, but the former has a brand new path to follow in front of him after taking over Galatasaray NEF on Saturday, March 19.

This will be his first stint as a head coach after 17 years as an assistant during which he won five Turkish Airlines EuroLeague championships, domestic titles and cups. You see him next to Itoudis, one of the most established coaches in the European basketball, in almost every photo, he has for the past beyond-the-decade years.

However, Pistiolis is more than ready for writing his own story. Even better, he has been preparing himself for this challenge for ages, as he mentions to Eurohoops.

This was a step I had been ready for long,” says Pistiolis speaking highly of his former team, CSKA Moscow. “I wanted it. This was known by people around me, I did not hide it. But at the same time, I had an obligation to a team that has been nothing but good to me. They always helped me, supported me and treated me well. The only thing you can say about the war situation is that it had an indirect impact. I did not want to leave Moscow for any political reasons, but at the same time, if we were on a Final Four course playing normal games in the EuroLeague, it wouldn’t have been so easy to leave. So maybe, indirectly, the situation played a role. But the main thing is my willingness to make the next step in my career.”

As he puts forward, he is ready for this challenge, and his close friend Itoudis also showed his support and belief in Pistiolis, as the latter explains:

“Definitely, he is excited for me. He knew this is something I wanted. It was my time” says Pistiolis. “Maybe it’s even a bit later than it should have been. Maybe I should have taken this step earlier, but Dimitris has always been supportive of me during my career. And I think he is excited for me.”

On the other side of the coin, Galatasaray NEF has been struggling since the beginning of the Round of 16 in the Basketball Champions League, after a remarkable regular season performance, due to injuries, COVID cases among other problems, and the team failed to meet the expectations by missing the quarter finals with five defeats in the Group I.

Shifting their attention to the Turkish Basketball Super League, the Lions of the Bosphorous lost their five of the last seven games, and they are on the verge of missing a playoff spot with the current standings. Pistiolis is determined to alter the route and shift the helm to the still waters, though, as he sees this as an opportunity and he considers the pressure something he has always been under.

“Pressure is not an issue for me. I am forged in difficult situationssays Pistiolis. “I was with a great team in Panathinaikos, in CSKA, and I have been at the highest level and been demanded always to win every game. When you want to win, there is always pressure. Pressure is not an issue. I expect that the people would put pressure on us when we do not do well. And I expect also that they will support us when we play well.”

Moreover, he is extremely ambitious to take Galatasaray to higher levels, which would trigger the Turkish basketball’s rise as well.

“Definitely, the magnitude of this club is what makes it appealing” says Pistiolis speaking of what made him interested in Galatasaray. “The people they have, the greatness of this club… As far as how Galatasaray convinced me, they just offered the job and I took it. That is the only convincing I need from a club that is this great. There’s nothing to think about. This is a no-brainer choice for me to come to Galatasaray. I believe that it is a great opportunity for me to be in a project that could rock the Turkish basketball. If we have Galatasaray next to the great Turkish teams in basketball, Turkish basketball is going to explode.”

While Galatasaray’s huge fanbase and its place in the Turkish basketball played a role in Pistiolis’ decision, it also comes down to General Manager Turgay Zeytingöz’s belief in him, whom Pistiolis worked with during his time as an assistant coach at Banvit in 2013-14 season.

Definitely!” he responds when asked whether Zeytingöz played a role in his move to Galatasaray. “I am a person that is more appreciated by the people that work with me. I am not a PR person. I don’t sell myself through social media or whatever. In order to appreciate what I can do, you have to work with me. That is the situation with Turgay.”

As the adversity hit Galatasaray recently and the team has been unable to meet the expectations, the mental state of team members get affected by such situations. To Pistiolis, this is something that comes hand in hand with adversity.

“It’s to be expected that when the results do not go your way, it affects your mental state” he says. “So, when you don’t get wins for whatever reason that may occur, this will shake your confidence. This is the first thing we have to work on, not only to improve our mental state, but our mental fortitude to go through difficulties and to not lose our confidence when things don’t go our way.”

In his first game as a head coach, Galatasaray faced MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in a game, where they hoped to close off the Champions League season with a win for the memories… and not to have further injuries that already crippled the roster this season. Neither were reached.

Unfortunately, team’s top scorer, the explosive guard/forward DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell slipped on the baseline, and he has to be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles. A huge blast to Galatasaray, big misfortune for Akoon-Purcell and so unfortunate for Pistiolis to experience in his first game as the head coach. However, he has the trust in Akoon-Purcell’s ability to get over this injury and pursue his bright career after his recovery.

“It has nothing to do with my career. This is about DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell’s career and this is very unfortunate, because he is a fine, young athlete with a big career in front of him.” he says. “That is not the end of it. I will keep repeating that we show our character in difficult moments, and he is called to go through something a lot of players go through in their careers. He has the confidence in his character to go through this successfully.”

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