Turkey's head coach Ergin Ataman joined Sergio Scariolo by pointing out many empty seats in the Tbilisi arena.

Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Turkey (1-0) opened its EuroBasket campaign with a hard-fought victory against Montenegro (0-1), and although head coach Ergin Ataman wasn't happy with his team's performance, he was also disappointed with the atmosphere inside the Tbilisi arena.

Just like in the first game between Spain and Bulgaria, Turkey's duel against Montenegro didn't attract many people. Only a small bunch of Turkish fans were trying to disperse the silence inside the Tbilisi arena.

Ataman was asked whether he expects to see a full arena when Turkey faces Georgia, but the 56-year-old argued that the problem is deeper.

"Every time these tournaments are in different countries, and they have a home-court advantage," Ataman said. "I think that Georgia will have a full arena of fans."

However, after this sentence, Ataman's tone changed.

"After many years in EuroLeague, this experience for me in this kind of tournament… I believe for some players, this kind of atmosphere..." Ataman was lost for words. "I don't know how you feel. The atmosphere you have every game in NBA, in EuroLeague. Tonight, we saw only 100 spectators."

Ataman also compared tonight's atmosphere with junior tournaments.

"For us, it doesn't give any emotions. I will have more emotions against Georgia. Okay, it's a road game for us, but basketball is good with fans and people on the court enjoying it. What's the difference between the U18 tournament and EuroBasket? There are many EuroLeague and NBA players, but the arena is empty.

Of course, against Georgia [it will be full arena]. Something has to change in the future. Are you happy with this atmosphere after watching the NBA, EuroLeague? It felt like U16, U18 tournament," Ataman continued.

BasketNews tried to ask Ataman what kind of differences he sees being a head coach in EuroLeague with a long season and EuroBasket, where the tournament is short. However, Turkey's head coach came back to the atmosphere topic.

"It's a long story to talk about what it's like to work with the club, where it's a long season, long preparation. Here you have only 3 weeks to prepare. There are other things, but I'd like to mention the atmosphere.

It's difficult to focus. For me, for players, even for you [media], I think. Maybe in the future, we must find other solutions with the national teams. Football is played with this system, but in every game, we see full stadiums. Here it's empty. Why are we here? For what? To enjoy and play basketball.

I'm proud of being a Turkish national team coach, but I'm talking about the system, the schedule. Something must change. What is this? We are playing in EuroBasket in empty arenas. For what? We are playing for people. Basketball is a show. It's show business. I always talk what I feel. Tonight I felt like I was coaching a junior team in this atmosphere," Ataman concluded.

Ataman wasn't the only one who took notice of empty seats. After the victory against Bulgaria, Sergio Scariolo also made a joke about it.

Lorenzo Brown was asked whether his relatives in the US watched the game, knowing that it was the EuroBasket debut for the 32-year-old guard.

"I made sure everybody would be watching the game. As you said, it's my first time playing on such a big stage, and everybody at home is proud of me. I made sure they have the right information, so they could watch the games," Brown answered.

That's where Scariolo stepped in.

"I'm sure there were more Lorenzo's relatives watching the game online than people in the arena," Scariolo said, making the whole press conference room laugh.

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