Credit: EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages
Credit EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages

Back-to-back Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Ergin Ataman sat down for an interview with the official EuroLeague website.

2-pointers this season

57%
19,3
Points made: 19,3
Accuracy: 56,8%
Place in standings: 11
Record max: 28
Record min: 12
Most made 2FGs: Vasilije Micic

Anadolu Efes Istanbul head coach spoke about the Final Four experience, Efes' comparison with the legendary Maccabi squad, his iconic celebration, and 3-peat.

As mentioned by the 56-year-old specialist, it's a special feeling to win back-to-back titles.

"It's an amazing feeling to make the back-to-back in the EuroLeague. I think this team is one of the best in EuroLeague history because not only [had there been just] two back-to-back teams [since 2000], but also in the last four years in the EuroLeague. Same team, same players... for me, this team is the best team of the new era of EuroLeague history."

Ataman pointed out that the main reason behind Anadolu Efes' success in EuroLeague is their experience in close Final Four duels.

"Final Four experience [is very important] and to be the last champion [as well], because I remember that in the first Final Four in 2019, we had a lot of emotions. Maybe we lost the final because to play the in final for us was a big [achievement]. But in 2021, we played the Final Four and the final just to win.

And again, it was a big emotion for us, especially me. It was my first EuroLeague title in my career. But this season, honestly, I was very relaxed before the Final Four and even before the final because I had this experience: experience of playing the final and experience of winning the title.

We had emotions to play, but we didn't have the emotions to win because we got a lot of confidence that we already had, and we were ready to repeat," commented the coach.

Asked about the Maccabi 2004-05 and Efes 2021-22 comparison, Ataman stated that his team is different from the other back-to-back champs.

"Listen, of course, in that period, we watched Maccabi with Pini Gershon. It was an amazing team with Anthony Parker and so many other players. But many years passed. Last time I remember that Olympiacos made the back-to-back with two different coaches, first with Duda [Ivkovic] and then with Bartzokas.

But now, I think that this team, my team is different because the same players, same coach, same staff, everything the same, and four years, not only... I told you not only to win the title but to make the back-to-back these two years. One year before the back-to-back, we led the EuroLeague, and for me, honestly, it was the best season of this team.

It was one of the records - 28 games that we played in the regular season. Before the season stopped, we won 24 games, and many games were finished in the first quarter, [with] differences of 15, 20 points. And one year before, we played a final. And this team came to the final in 2019 from the last position in 2018.

So, these four years, I think, are extremely different in the history of EuroLeague basketball. Okay, maybe it's back-to-back for Maccabi and Olympiacos, but my team is different," told Ataman.

He also answered a question about his legendary festive gesture, fists celebration.

"I made this, not make a show. I show this because I like to share my enjoyment with people. Not only with the people in the arena but with all the people watching the game on TV. Because I know that people that get to enjoy our results, our title, they like that the coach of the team is a guy that enjoys every time [and shares] his feelings with them.

I know that I get a big responsibility for the Turkish sports, and I am very happy that the whole country shows big respect for my team and, of course, for me. And it's a great pleasure for me because it's more than a profession, more than money, more than everything to get this respect for the people that love you."

Last but not least, Ergin Ataman discussed the 3-peat scenario for the upcoming EuroLeague season.

"We will try to win one more time next year. I hope that we will be stronger also. This season, in the beginning, we had a lot of trouble, and we added this experience. Now we also have this experience. We had big trouble in the first part of the [season]. We will start the next season with this experience. It's very important for me, for the team, and we will try to repeat it.

And with all respect to other teams that in the history of basketball won three titles [in a row], this EuroLeague is different. We played 40 games before winning the title. It's not like the FIBA Champions League or the EuroLeague before that you play 20, 22 games in the whole year. This EuroLeague is amazing.

So far, we have already played 80 games. 80 official games. 40 in the EuroLeague, 40 in the local competition [and still counting]. So, it's a really big effort. This team to win back-to-back titles. For me, this team is in the pole position in the history of the EuroLeague basketball," concluded the head coach.

URBONUS

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