Although just 53 years old, Anadolu Efes Istanbul head coach Ergin Ataman, already has every argument to be considered the greatest Turkish-born coach ever. In just over 20 years since his first head coaching job, Ataman has won the 2016 EuroCup with Galatasaray Istanbul, the 2012 FIBA EuroChallenge with Besiktas JK Istanbul, and the 2002 FIBA Saporta Cup with Montepaschi Siena of Italy.
Even earlier, as an assistant coach with Efes in 1996, he helped guide the team to a Korac Cup crown, the first European title ever won by a Turkish club in any team sport.
Ataman has worked and won trophies at almost all of the biggest Turkish basketball clubs, and led the Turkish national team, but he may already be sure his name will forever be inked in golden letters in the Efes history books. Efes is where Ataman started his career, first as a youth coach, then as an assistant. His fingerprints are all over every biggest EuroLeague success Efes has had over the past two decades.
Ataman is the man who guided Efes to the EuroLeague Final Four in 2000, another first for a Turkish team in European basketball history. But his success goes beyond Turkish borders. He took over Siena and started to turn the Italian club into a European powerhouse, winning the 2002 FIBA Saporta title before taking the club to its first EuroLeague Final Four in 2003.
A few years later, Efes won the last of its 13 Turkish League titles in 2009 under Ataman. It's certainly no coincidence that since he returned to the club in December 2017, Ataman has taken a team that finished last season at the bottom of the EuroLeague standings and turned it into a contender for the title of the continent's best team.
It will be Ataman's third Final Four, but his first with Efes in almost two decades, so you can be sure that he will be ready to make the most of the occasion.