Exclusive interview with coach Ilias Zouros (agency: Alti Sport) who talks on Anadolu Efes, Valencia, Zalgiris, Greek National Team and Euroleague
Coach Ilias Zouros you arrived in Istanbul a bit more than a week ago. What kind of team did you find? Anadolu Efes was supposed to reach the Euroleague Final Four which will take place in Istanbul, furthermore Efes didn't win the Turkish Cup. There was lack of confidence in the players, in the roster and the organization? Yes, it is normal when you don't reach something that you expect to reach, as for example Final Four or the Final in the national Cup. The moral of the players was not so good. First thing I did, and every coach has to do, it was to enocourage and help the players psicologically to be better for the rest of the season.
For Anadolu Efes, what is the goal of the season? First of all, now our goal is to come back and be strong for the last part of the season and during the playoffs.
Is Anadolu Efes on the market looking for a new player who can help the team till the season ends? First of all I want to check all the players I have in the roster. You can't judge the players in such a short period. So I need a little bit more to understand what is going on with the team at the moment, how the players can do their job. The team has one more opportunity to sign a new player. But as a coach, I don't like to take decisions until I am 100% sure that I have to do something to improve the roster. I don't want to make a mistake deciding to sign a new player without the perfect knowledge of what I have now in the roster. It is important to make the right decision without any rush because we are getting closer to the crucial part of the season. For the moment I am very satisfied with the player I have. But during any game and practice I check deeply the situation.
On what ground did you accept a three-month job with Anadolu Efes? It was reported that you signed without any option for the next season. Is that true? Yes, it is true. But together with Anadolu Efes management we agreed that right after the end of the season we will discuss again about future. I made the right decision for me. I am in one of the best clubs in Europe, as team, organization, results and history of the club. It is a big honor for me to work with such an important club. Of course, it is much better to get a job like this and with good results you have the chance to extend the contract for other seasons being ready to make even better things.
Early in the season, you were at the helm of Zalgiris Kaunas. What did not work properly with the team and management? I have excellent memories of my period in Kaunas because we won titles. I love the city and I have loved my basketball experience there. I cannot explain why I was out of the team without a normal reason. It was impossible to work because we started with a lot of games in a row, plus I didn't have any foreign players. Even for the first game, they arrived just the game before our debut. So it was impossible to find a good chemistry and to have the good results they were expecting in such a short period, considering that many players were with their National Teams. When you have enough time to work, everything can come.
In Zalgiris Kaunas you have coached Ty Lawson and Sonny Weems. Lawson is now back to the Nuggets and is having a huge season but in Kaunas he had big problems in adapting to European basketball. While it was clear since the beginning that Sonny Weems could be a crack for Europe. In your opionion, why Ty Lawson had so many problems? Was he just thinking to go back to the NBA at the end of the lockout? Sonny Weems signed for the season, he knew since the beginning that he was staying in Europe without going back to the NBA. He was focused to do his best, to improve his game. Ty Lawson, on the other hand, has a big talent. But it is normal, when a player has a contract in the NBA, he is interested just in being in shape. For Lawson it was difficult to adapt to European basketball because the style and rules are different. He needed more time to understand how European basketball is. Especially in offense because, as we know, in NBA Lawson has a lot of space to drive to basketball. Driving to the basket facing European defense is more difficult.
Before signing with Anadolu Efes, how close you were to Valencia? Did you get any other offer? There were some proposals to my agent Obrad Fimic. But we wanted to find the best solution for me and not just to sign somewhere to get a job without expecting something from this job. It is true that I was very close to Valencia. It is a very good club and organization who had great results over the last seasons. We were very close but something happened at the end. It is good that I got the job here in Efes. I am happy that my career is continuing in one of the best teams in Europe.
In the summer you won't have time to rest because with Greek National Team you have the last chance to qualify for London 2012. Do you expect to have the best players for the Qualifying Tournament? Last summer, in Eurobasket, Greece reached a great result without having all its best players. I hope so. Any coach, every time hopes to have all the best players available for the National Team. For sure Dimitris Diamantidis won't be with us, because he retired from the NT. But I think that most of the players will be ready to play. A problem this year is that a lot of national championships end very late and the Pre-Olympic Tournament starts very early. There are leagues, as the Italian one, that finish late. We don't have enough time to prepare our team. So we will not make many changes, because we believe that it is better to go with a big part of the players we had last season. They know better each other and they know my philosophy about the games. We need to have good results in a short period.
Talking about the Greek players in Italy. A question about Ioanis Bourousis (Olimpia Milano). In Olympiacos he was one the most dominant centers in Europe while this season he is struggling and having problems to be decisive as expected. While Antonis Fotsis is playing at his standard levels. Why? I believe that every team, every player and every coach are different. You can do a good job in one team and maybe in the next one you are not so succesfull. Antonis Fotsis has played many years outside Greece and he had an easier job to do. For Bourousis this is his first season outside Greece. And sometimes players need more time to understand the differences between the leagues. Ioannis is a huge talented player and I hope he will be able to show his talent soon, even in Milano.
In your opionion, who is going to win the Euroleague? I think that CSKA Moscow and Regal Barcelona are the two favorites to win the Euroleague. CSKA has a huge talent with players that have played together for a long time. Regal Barcelona is a good team as well. Last season they could reach the Final Four in Barcelona and for sure, they want to qualify this year for the Finals. Panathinaikos vs Maccabi Tel Aviv and Siena vs Olympiacos, they have to fight till the end to get a spot for Istanbul. Panathinaikos has the court advantage but Maccabi Tel Aviv has an experienced roster with quality. Olympiacos and Siena fought a lot last season, it will be tough to make a prediction.
Who is the player that impressed you the most in Euroleague? Even a young one? For me Shved is one of the best players this season. He started playing well from Eurobasket with Russian National Team. He exploded this season with CSKA Moscow. A lot of players coming from the NBA are playing nice basketball, for example Andrei Kirilenko.
Last question is about the agency that represents you, Alti Sport, with Obrad and Aleksandar Fimic. How important are they for you in getting such important contracts with European Top Teams? I am very happy to be working with Obrad and Aleksandar Fimic. They both helped me a lot. Not just in getting me a job but also taking care of their clans. We talk a lot about the job and they show you everytime that they are close to you, thinking and working for you. I am really happy to work with them.
Muratbey Usak Sportlif Basketbol (BSL) added to their roster American (has also Greek passport) forward Zach Auguste (208-110kg, college: Notre Dame, agency: Pensack Sports). He was about to sign at LA Lakers in the NBA. He was voted All-ACC 3rd Team in 2016 at his college time. The previous (12-13) season Auguste played at another team Fighting Irish in U.S [read more]
Muratbey Usak Sportlif Basketbol (BSL) added to their roster American (has also Greek passport) forward Zach Auguste (208-110kg, college: Notre Dame, agency: Pensack Sports). He was about to sign at LA Lakers in the NBA. He was voted All-ACC 3rd Team in 2016 at his college time. The previous (12-13) season Auguste played at another team Fighting Irish in U.S. semi-pro league NCAA1 where in 25 games he had 3.7ppg and 2.7rpg. He helped them to make it to the semifinals. Auguste just graduated from University of Notre Dame and it is his first season as a pro. On Auguste: by Chris Mammides (August 2014)
The Greek-American a talented and skilled individual, an all around frontcourt player is improving day by day focusing mainly in his talent and hard work joining an amazing good basketball program in Notre Dame coming as one of the top men in the New Hampton (N.H.) School , Zachary is expected to lead his college in both points and rebounds in his junior season and of course to keep on the same paste on his sophomore, at the same time due to his above average Basketball IQ he is very useful in many edges in the court. He is great in his extra curricula and also he is quite active in the various community services (awarded in the bronze level), and he is active as a member of the St. Anargyroi Greek Orthodox Church. He is working very hard every summer and that is the reason why his numbers are totally amazing season by season. A versatile player who is at his best playing above the rim with great defensive skills and timing in the air. Solid physical player with natural power can defend against much bigger guys with great results. During his last evolvements he focused on slowing down the pace of his game and working on his consistency of play at both ends of the floor and has great results so far. Gets up and down floor well ... can step away from the basket and shoot a jump shot away from the basket ... good ball handler ... has scored in double figures 10 times during his career. In his first two years with the the Notre Dam, Auguste often was in a hurry with about every aspect of the game. He played fast on the court; he talked quickly off it. He so wanted to play a key role that it left him all wound up and running in circles, not sure where he fit. As a freshman, preseason sprains twice to the same ankle derailed any idea that Auguste could crack a veteran rotation. Then-senior Jack Cooley had locked down all the low-post minutes. Generally, Auguste is of great material, he will pursue a professional career as he has all the elements to become a great player either in NBA or in the European courts. He will eventually be among the top men of the Greek NT.
EuroLeague: Darussafaka victorious in Kazan - 2 days ago
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Unics - Darussafaka 87:94 Darussafaka claimed the second victory in EuroLeague regular season. They topped Unics in Kazan for 2-1 record tonight. Brad Wanamaker (193-G-89, college: Pittsburgh) scored 22 points and issued 7 assists to lead the visitors. The teams got to a flying start. They teamed up for 57 points in the opening quarter as Unics eked out a 29:28 lead. The teams traded baskets throughout the second term. Unics secured a 47:46 halftime lead. Darussafaka improved defensivel... [read more]
Unics - Darussafaka 87:94
Darussafaka claimed the second victory in EuroLeague regular season. They topped Unics in Kazan for 2-1 record tonight. Brad Wanamaker (193-G-89, college: Pittsburgh) scored 22 points and issued 7 assists to lead the visitors. The teams got to a flying start. They teamed up for 57 points in the opening quarter as Unics eked out a 29:28 lead. The teams traded baskets throughout the second term. Unics secured a 47:46 halftime lead. Darussafaka improved defensively in the second half. They held Unics to 12 points in the third term to take a 65:59 lead at the final break. The Turkish team unloaded 29 points in the fourth term and rallied to the valuable road win. James Anderson (198-SG-89, college: Oklahoma St.) produced 18 points, while Scottie Wilbekin (188-G-93, college: Florida) added 13 points in the victory. Artsiom Parakhouski (211-C-87, college: Radford) responded with 17 points and 7 rebounds for Unics. Keith Langford (193-SG-83, college: Kansas) topscored with 22 points in the defeat.
Theodore number one in Turkey for round 3 - 2 days ago
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American Point guard Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89) put on an extraordinary performance in the last round for second-ranked Banvit BK, receiving a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 3. The 27-year old player was the main contributor (34 points, three rebounds and nine assists) to his team's victory, helping them to beat Galatasaray (#8, 2-1) 83-74. Banvit BK is placed at 2nd position in Turkish BSL. They maintain a perfect record without any lost game in the league. The season... [read more]
American Point guard Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89) put on an extraordinary performance in the last round for second-ranked Banvit BK, receiving a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 3. The 27-year old player was the main contributor (34 points, three rebounds and nine assists) to his team's victory, helping them to beat Galatasaray (#8, 2-1) 83-74. Banvit BK is placed at 2nd position in Turkish BSL. They maintain a perfect record without any lost game in the league. The season is still on an early stage, but Banvit BK already had a very good start winning all 3 without losing a single one. In the team's last game Theodore had a remarkable 78.6% from 2-point range. He turned to be Banvit BK's top player in his first season with the team. Former Seton Hall University star has very solid stats this year. Theodore is league's best scorer averaging so far 27.0ppg. Theodore is in league's top in assists (3rd best: 9.0apg) and averages impressive 64.9% FGP.
The second best player in last round's games was 29-year old Serbian Vladimir Stimac (210-C-87, agency: Interperformances) of Besiktas. Stimac had a very good evening with a double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds. Of course Besiktas cruised to a 84-73 relatively comfortable win over Istanbul BBSK (0-3). A very good start of the season for his team, which won so far all 3 games without any defeat. Stimac is a newcomer at Besiktas, but is already one of team's top players. He belongs to the best scorers in the league with 16.7ppg (#9). He also registered 12.3 boards per game.
Third on the list of top players last round was American forward Shaquielle McKissic (196-F-90) of Usak (#5). McKissic showcased his all-around game by recording 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the last round. He was a key player of Usak, leading his team to a 103-64 easy win against TED Kolejliler (#15, 0-3). Usak needs these victories very badly if they think about getting closer to top teams. Their record at this point is 2 victories and 1 lost game. McKissic has a great season in Turkey. After only 3 games, he made it on the list of the league's leaders in points with 18.0ppg (5th best).
Other top performing players last week: 4. Darryl Monroe (201-C/F-86) of Usak - 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists 5. Josh Owens (206-F/C-88) of Pinar Karsiyaka - 16 points and 10 rebounds 6. Berkay Candan (205-F-93) of Usak - 19 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists 7. Kaloyan Ivanov (205-F/C-86) of Tofas - 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists 8. Thomas Heurtel (189-G-89) of Anadolu Efes - 18 points and 12 assists 9. Kevin Dillard (183-PG-89) of Pinar Karsiyaka - 20 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists 10. DaJuan Summers (203-F-88) of Pinar Karsiyaka - 18 points and 7 rebounds
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
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