Credit: EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages
Credit EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages

Anadolu Efes players stormed the official EuroLeague press conference and showered their coach Ergin Ataman and the consecutive Final Four MVP Vasilije Micic.

This moment looked so far away when Efes were 12th on the standings and had these doubts all around.

But in the most challenging moments, Ataman was the first to show confidence (and fists) in his group.

When he made his famous fists move in Palau Blaugrana, where he was ejected from the game against Barcelona, many people made fun of him.

But game by game, Efes turned things around and steadily went for the back-to-back title.

Efes became only the third team to win back-to-back, making a case for the best modern EuroLeague team ever.

"For me, it was incredible at the beginning of the season that everything was going wrong. But I had a lot of meetings with the players. I did everything I could," Ataman said after the game.

"My fists in Palau, Barcelona, where I was ejected, were important for my team and my organization, as a sign that we will come back, we will come back for the Final Four. This is the prize for them believing together," Ataman said after the game.

After all these predictions, which turned into reality, Ataman was provoked to start his campaign for the three-peat.

"Three-peat?" Ataman smiled.

"Listen, now there is too much for the third EuroLeague title. I told my friends and Turkish journalists, that now my confidence is in the national team. I want the gold for my national team!" Ataman made another bold statement.

"Now I'm very tired to think about the third title. I only think to go to Turkey to take one day's rest, go to the beach, swim, and manage the Turkish league playoffs," he concluded.

Free throws this season

Points made: 13,0
Accuracy: 81,5%
Place in standings: 7
Record max: 28
Record min: 3
Most made FTs: Vasilije Micic

He also emphasized the importance of returning the glory to the Turkish national team when asked how difficult it would be to keep this core of Efes players together.

"It's a difficult question for us. Our goal will be our playoffs. Then my personal goal, as I promised to the Turkish country, will be the time to win also with the national team."

Asked if this win puts Ataman among the top EuroLeague coaches ever, the coach smiled.

"It's nice to be an outsider. I'm an outsider coach because I'm coming from Turkey. Because before, nobody in Turkey made these results in sports. That's normal," Ataman said.

"Actually, I enjoy this job. I'm a different kind of person. I enjoy coaching, press conferences, and interviews. Sometimes I enjoy complaining to EuroLeague. They punish me, and I'm the sponsor of the EuroLeague. But now I will take my bonus from the EuroLeague," he added.

"Somebody considers me a good coach, and somebody says I'm not. That's okay, no problem," Ataman smiled.

The one and only coach even stopped the press conference for a minute to change his clothes. They were all wet from two showers that he got from his players.

When Ataman celebrated the title and EuroLeague put the interview with him on the Stark Arena screen, Olympiacos fans booed Anadolu Efes' coach.

But Ataman was thankful to Olympiacos fans for creating a fantastic atmosphere for both Piraeus and other games.

He also mentioned that he actually received a lot of pleasant support from the Greek fans despite being booed.

"Today everybody from Greek asked me to take pictures. Turkish people, Greek people, we're always friends. We're neighbors, friends. Thank you all for the support," Ataman said.

Ataman also was asked to show support for Ukraine, which is still trying to defend its homeland from the Russian invasion.

"We're deeply upset about the situation. I talked about this just from day one of the war. I was the first, actually, when somebody tried to cut my words on live tv," Ataman recalled the beginning of the invasion.

"It's unacceptable that such things happened in Ukraine in this century. I'm very sorry. We're all upset with the Turkish people. We saw honest people, children, and civils that died. They stayed around and disappeared. It's unbelievable that it happened in this century, 2022," Ataman repeated.

"Talking about sports, I'm very sorry for my friends that work in Russia. This is only bullshit politics," he added. "I hope that humanity finally will beat this situation like we beat coronavirus in the last two years. I'm optimistic that I can see all of this."

When Ataman finished the press conference, he stood and showed his fists one last time.

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Alen Melon
he really is unique, that's for sure. congrats.
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