Ataman: “I gave them confidence from the first day in winning the Euroleague”


Panathinaikos coach, Ergin Ataman, explained the way in which he motivated his players to, after being 17th last season, believe in their chances of being Euroleague champions, as they achieved this Sunday against Real Madrid in Berlin, after of one of the “best seasons” in the history of the competition.

“In a team that has been 17th, you have to give them big goals. I told them on the first day that we had to put one more flag behind the seventh title at OAKA. My goal was to reach the ‘Final Four’, I really believed we could do it. Then there were two more games to win the Euroleague,” he said at a press conference.

“From the first day I told them that we would have the ticket to the ‘Final Four’, and Sloukas told them ‘listen to the coach, he is going to take us to the ‘Final Four’. I gave them confidence and made them compete to win the Euroleague together. We have a great relationship,” he added.

In fact, Ataman referred to his father, who recently died, to tell the details of his players. “A month ago my father died. He was always in the titles with me. The day my father died all the players, led by Sloukas, sent me messages saying that they were going to honor me and my father,” he stated.

On the other hand, Ataman joked about Chus Mateo’s ‘best coach’ award and recalled that the first in the regular phase does not win the Euroleague. “The coach of the year never wins the title, so I would win the Euroleague,” said the Turkish coach, who confessed that in his third European Cup he was “calm.”

“It’s an incredible feeling, I think we had one of the best seasons in the history of the Euroleague. After many years without titles, returning here and winning the title with 15,000 fans with us. With an incredible final, although we didn’t start well. Surely everyone started to think that it was going to be a boring final, but we always talked about increasing our defense, and in the second quarter we already achieved control of the game,” he noted.

“Real Madrid is perhaps one of the best teams this season, but as always, the first team in the regular league does not win, and we are the champion,” he concluded.