Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay
Credit AP Photo/Eric Gay

Ettore Messina was one of the guest speakers at this year's coaching clinic "Dusan Ivkovic", which is traditionally organized by the Serbian Basketball Coaches Association. 

Points this season

Points made: 113,0
Accuracy: 46,6%
Place in standings: 7
Record max: 157
Record min: 90
Best scorer: Dejounte Murray

In an interview with Blic, the coach of AX Armani Exchange Milan talked about the late Ivkovic, his predecessor on CSKA Moscow's bench until the Italian took over the Russians for the first time in 2005, and about opportunities for European coaches in the NBA. 

"Coach Ivkovic was one of our legendary teachers. It is a great honor for me that I was invited to speak and teach at the clinic that bears his name. It's a great way to celebrate his legacy and everything he did for basketball - and not just the Serbian basketball," Messina initially said before going into detail about how Ivkovic affected his career.

"I've learned a lot from him," he noted. "His teams were always extremely well prepared. I think the discipline and organization that his teams showed is something all coaches should teach", the 62-years-old tactician stressed.

From 2014 through 2019, Ettore Messina was Gregg Popovic's assistant at the San Antonio Spurs. It was a collaboration that drastically influenced his career and understanding of basketball.

"He is a living legend," the coach from Catania said. "There's not a day in which he didn't surprise me with something. His knowledge of basketball and life is so big, so wide."

Messina went on to address the issue of European coaches being chosen by NBA franchises only for assistant duties. 

"Honestly, I don't think there's any problem there," Messina responded.

"I think there's a logical resistance among NBA organizations and among the owners of the clubs to trust someone who is a foreigner, who may not speak perfect English, who has no roots in the country. And now it is customary to choose younger coaches, African American coaches or former players.

And I understand it, as a part of life and I'm still happy for the chance I've had at the Spurs next to coach Popovich," Messina said. 

The Italian bench boss also referred to his team, Armani Milan, that recently returned to the Serie A throne after being ousted in the EuroLeague playoffs. 

"Our goal is to fight for the Italian league every year. For the last three years we've been able to sign some high-quality players who've shown to the rest of the team how to get to the Final Four. Our goal is to get back to a Final Four.

But before that, you need to secure a place in the playoffs, in league with 18 teams, all of which can be among the TOP 8," Messina pointed out. 

The experienced tactician repeated that EuroLeague and FIBA "have to sit down at the same table because the calendar is very bad for the players and coaches. We have to find a way to harmonize it and build a much better relationship."

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