By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
VITORIA-GASTEIZ– In a Eurohoops interview, Fenerbahce Beko coach Zeljko Obradovic said that he doesn’t think that NBA teams trusts European coaches enough to provide them with concrete head coach opportunities.
Messina, an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs and former four-time EuroLeague champion, thinks that there’s no common rule regarding European coaches in the NBA.
“I’ve been treated very well by the league. And of course by the San Antonio Spurs. So I don’t think that’s there’s a general perception,” Messina told Eurohoops when asked about Obradovic’s comments. “I think that from different club to different club, there are probably different opinions. Like it is in many other things.
Messina believes that being successful in the NBA is an equally challenging task for everybody, regardless of nationality or background.
“It’s an elite league. It’s not easy there for anybody whether you are an American or foreigner. I don’t think that there is a general perception like that. Even if you see in Europe, with the exception of Rick Pitino, we don’t have one American coach.”
Messina proceeded to praise Pitino for his quick adjustment to European basketball and the results he produced with Panathinaikos.
“I think he did really an unbelievable job. A coach of his fame and his resume to come and show this passion for Euroleague basketball and European basketball. I think it was very good for all the league and all the fans to see that. All credit to coach Pitino.”
A European coach who has been heavily rumored of being targeted by NBA teams for a head coach position is Sarunas Jasikevicius.
Does Messina think that Jasikevicius is ready to make such a jump so early in his coaching career?
“Look. I had my first opportunity to become a head coach when I was 29. Not on NBA level of course, but in Europe. We can’t judge when somebody’s ready. The situation, opportunity and life will show you everything. He was an amazing player, he’s an excellent coach and he’ll do well anyway,” Messina commented.
Messina, who won the EuroLeague in 2006 and 2008 with the Russian powerhouses, was definitely impressed.
“I think that what they did was very special,” Messina said. “They kept their composure. They kept playing defense. And more importantly, they started rebounding very well. When Tavares was called with his fourth foul and left, Hunter started rebounding very well. They had more possessions. When De Colo and Sergio score about 40 points, they are a completely different team. The first part of the game it was only Chacho and then De Colo started having a great performance.”
“You don’t have an advantage in the Final. Both teams are very strong and mentally in a very good place because they probably didn’t expect to be there.”