Final Four head coach: Georgios Bartzokas, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar

Apr 28, 2016 by Print
Final Four head coach: Georgios Bartzokas, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar

It did not take Georgios Bartzokas very long to decided what needed to be done when he arrived as Lokomotiv's new head coach at the start of this season. He found a team with lots of offensive weapons and he vowed to maximize its potential through hard work and defense. Eight months later, Bartzokas had the top-ranked defense in the Euroleague and Lokomotiv was celebrating the club's first berth in the Final Four.

Two traits have characterized Bartzokas's coaching record: overachievement and defense. After a playing career that was cut short by injuries, Bartzokas worked his way up the coaching ladder in his native Greece. He first appeared on the Euroleague stage in 2009, taking Maroussi through qualifying rounds to the regular season and the Top 16 before coming within a single victory of making the playoffs. In 2012, Bartzokas was chosen as the new head coach for defending champion Olympiacos Piraeus. He proved up to the challenge as he guided the Reds to just the second title repeat in the Euroleague this century and was named the 2012-13 Aleksander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year.

Although coaching Lokomotiv presented new challenges as Bartzokas ventured outside of Greece for the first time, he guided a steady ship from opening night. In fact, Lokomotiv never had to fight for survival while winning its regular season group and finishing second in the Top 16 with home-court advantage for the playoffs. Only then did Lokomotiv face its toughest test, but with the confidence, tenaciousness and defensive ability that Bartzokas had instilled early in the season, Lokomotiv outlasted mighty FC Barcelona Lassa in five games and Bartzokas returned to the Final Four.

He was already in the history books as the first Greek-born coach to win the Euroleague. Now, in Berlin, Bartzokas hopes to join the small fraternity of coaches with multiple Euroleague crowns to their names.