Pitino holds court after debut win

Dec 29, 2018 by Euroleague.net Print

As expected, the Greek media had a lot of questions for new Panathinaikos OPAP Athens head coach Rick Pitino, especially after the Greens upset CSKA Moscow 96-84 on Friday. And Pitino had plenty of answers. Here are some excerpts.

• "My message to them was, 'After watching five films of your games, you can't win playing the type of defense that you are playing.' The second thing I told them was everybody says you can't shoot. That's not true. I put them through some shooting drills and said: 'You guys can shoot. The problem is you can't pass. Because you're averaging 13 assists per game and four guys are watching one. If you get ball movement and constantly pass the basketball, you will outshoot them from the three-point line.' And tonight, we had 20 assists and we outshot [CSKA] from three, and they're an outstanding shooting team."

• "I said to the players, 'I want one thing from you. I want you to play like you're on a one-day contract. You've got one day to perform. And at the end of the night, I want you to look in the mirror, and you decide if you get your contract renewed.' And every one of those guys tonight got their contract renewed."

• "The fans tonight, they motivated us to play that type of defense."

• "For me, the reason I took this job – one of a number of reasons – is that I am 66 and I don't want to ever stop learning. I have things I can give the players, but I want to learn. These coaches, the coach tonight is outstanding. All the films I watch, these coaches are great. And it's a different form of basketball, and it allows me to learn and grow. Because when you stop learning you have to stop coaching. I am very impressed with EuroLeague basketball, and I knew it would be this way."

• "Nick Calathes, I don't know what they pay him, but he's worth every penny."

• "It feels like the Boston Celtics again with how much tradition there is here, and I'm very impressed with that."

• "I'm giving them all nicknames. The only negative I have found in my short stay in Greece is that I can't pronounce the names of the players. That's the only negative. Thanasis [Antetokounmpo] is Flash now. Lukas [Lekavicius] is Skywalker. He doesn't speak at all, this kid. He just looks at me like I have three heads, and says yes."

• "Can we make that the last question? I've got to go to the bathroom, badly."