By George Efkarpidis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Fotis Katsikaris has coached in Greece, in Spain, and in Russia, he was on the bench of the Greek national team when Giannis Antetokounmpo made his debut and he signed with the Utah Jazz last summer.
Katsikaris joined the Jazz as an assistant and he felt right at home, under coach Quin Snyder who has also experience in Europe and even has a play named after one of the best players of the old continent. “There is indeed a “Spanoulis” play and it is not just one”, confirmed Katsikaris, while speaking to the media on a conference call. “There are different option and moves, starting with a move under the basket and then with a handoff, something Olympiacos has always done with Spanoulis and coach Snyder has adapted it to his philosophy”.
Utah has also a lot of European talent in Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio and even Australian Joe Ingles who made his name in Europe before going to the States. Katsikaris, who has faced Ingles in the past as an opponent is impressed by his progress: “Indeed, Ingles has made quite an impression. In a league like the NBA, which is based on athletic ability, he has the mind. He is a point forward, he is more mature, he understands the game, he is a good passer and has an excellent chemistry with Gobert. He takes advantage of the biggest spaces in the NBA court to shoot”.
For Katsikaris on a personal level, the move to the NBA is the biggest challenge yet, even if he was a head coach in Europe for 15 years: “When I received coach Snyder’s invitation, I realized this was my biggest challenge. Apart from the fact that it was my dream to be in the NBA, the time was right for this decision. I felt, of course, like closing a 15-year cycle and starting a new one, of course using my experience but on a different role. That was what I thought, making the decision to do something new, to rejuvenate myself. I now see things that, theoretically, I knew from another perspective and I am becoming a better coach. It was, rather, the change I was looking for and it came at the right time. I enjoy, of course, being part of the best world championship, with the best coaches and athletes, the best conditions to work, to improve and to discover new things. Many times, you know, as coached we think we really know basketball, but I inform you that within 2.5 months I have learned too much and I am open to learning even more.”