They said it: 'He is the best player in Europe'

Jan 25, 2020 by Print
They said it: 'He is the best player in Europe'

The intensity and passion that characterizes the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this week spilled over into the post-game discussions, as well. Here is some of the best of what this week's protagonists, both winners and losers, had to say following their games.

No obstacle too big

"For Efes, I believe it is the first victory after 15 years. We talked about this in the morning meeting…but I saw that this team is ready to win everything." – Ergin Ataman

After his league-leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul stretched its lead at the top to three games by winning at Real Madrid. Ergin Ataman, who was happy to register his first win at Wizink Center in Madrid, was keen to put the scale of his team’s achievement into historical context.

Coach's favourite

"I believe that last two years, in our team, he improved his basketball. He improved mentally and right now, for me, he is the best player in Europe." – Ergin Ataman

Shane Larkin shined once again, winning his fourth consecutive MVP of the round honor. Larkin's streak of four straight rounds as MVP is double that of any other previous player this century. Ataman made a claim about his back-to-back-to-back-to-back MVP of the Round Shane Larkin that is hard to argue against.

Nothing comes easy

"We don't have enough patience to prepare the games and play them. We want to win by 20 playing well, but there are games like this in which you have to work." – Sergio Llull

On the losing side, Real’s Sergio Llull believes his team need to change its mental approach to bring its three-game losing run to an end, stressing the need for more patience. Real, which was tied for a league-lead just two weeks ago, is now in a share of the second place, three games behind Efes.

Basketball philosophy

Nigel Hayes - Zalgiris Kaunas Media Day 2019 - EB19

"There’s no such thing as hot. It’s all mathematical averages." – Nigel Hayes

Nigel Hayes of Zalgiris Kaunas rejected the suggestion that he made a 'hot' start to his team’s crushing victory over ALBA Berlin. The Lithuanian powerhouse blew past ALBA 104-80, registering its fourth win in the last six games, and Hayes made a statement rather more philosophical than the usual post-game interview.

No fourth-quarter greatness

"We played like a high school team. I don’t like the way we finished that game - in every area…If you want to become a great basketball team, you have to know how to play with a lead. And obviously we didn’t show any greatness there." – Rick Pitino

Like Zalgiris, another team in green – Panathinaikos OPAP Athens – put triple figures on the board in a big home win over LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. But coach Rick Pitino was making sure his players don’t get carried away with 100-88 score, and their third straight win, by drawing attention to their sloppy defensive efforts in the last quarter when they gave up 30 points.


Healthy and focused

"Now, when I am healthy, it is much easier to get the rhythm and get in game shape. [Before] I wasn't healthy and wasn't focused enough." – Jan Vesely

Friday’s other winner was Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, which got 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals from Jan Vesely to overcome AX Armani Exchange Milan. And after few months marked by injury problems, last season’s league MVP had an ominous message for the rest of the league: he is pain-free and focused.