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.
Anadolu Efes clinch the last Semifinal spot - May 23, 2013
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Anadolu Efes - TED Kolejliler 97-61 (2-1)
Anadolu Efes clinch the last Semifinal spot in the Play-offs. The EuroLeague representative overcame TED Kolejliler 97:61 in the decisive third game. The game without a history. Anadolu Efes led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They dominated down low during the game scoring 60 of its points in the paint compared to TED Kolejliler's 36 [read more]
Anadolu Efes clinch the last Semifinal spot in the Play-offs. The EuroLeague representative overcame TED Kolejliler 97:61 in the decisive third game. The game without a history. Anadolu Efes led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They dominated down low during the game scoring 60 of its points in the paint compared to TED Kolejliler's 36. Anadolu Efes looked well-organized offensively handing out 27 assists comparing to just 11 passes made by TED Kolejliler's players. The best player for the winners was international Sinan Guler (192-83, college: Carroll, MT, agency: 1x1 Sports) who scored 17 points and 5 assists. International Birkan Batuk (196-90) chipped in 19 points (on 6-of-7 shooting from the field). At the other side the best for losing team was New Zealand guard Kirk Penney (196-80, college: Wisconsin, agency: Duran International) who recorded 18 points and American point guard Ben Woodside (180-85, college: N.Dakota St., agency: Priority Sports) added 13 points and 4 assists respectively. Both teams had four players each who scored in double figures. The winner was already known earlier in the game, so both coaches allowed to play the bench players saving starting five for next games. Top scorers: Anadolu Efes: B.Batuk 19+3reb+2ast, S.Guler 17+4reb+5ast, D.Savanovic 16+6reb+2ast, D.Balbay 10+3ast, K.Gonlum 10+5reb, J.Lukas Gordon 8+2reb+4ast TED Kolejliler: K.Penney 18+4reb+3ast, B.Woodside 13+3reb+4ast, V.Plisnic 11+3reb, J.Stanojevic 10+5reb+1ast, N.Ozbakir 4+1reb, C.Erdeniz 2
Akhisar Bld - Usak 51-66 (0-2)
The game without a history. Usak led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. American forward Justin Carter (193-87, college: Creighton, agency: Pro Partner Sports Management) notched a double-double by scoring 14 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the effort and swingman Ozcan Surucu (200-83) supported him with 13 points [read more]
The game without a history. Usak led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. American forward Justin Carter (193-87, college: Creighton, agency: Pro Partner Sports Management) notched a double-double by scoring 14 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the effort and swingman Ozcan Surucu (200-83) supported him with 13 points. Usak's coach Ozan Bulkaz allowed to play the deep bench players saving starting five for next games. Even a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds by American forward Tyrone Nelson (206-85, college: N.Mexico St.) did not help to save the game for Akhisar Bld. His fellow American import forward Darrius Morrow (203-90, college: E.Carolina, agency: Three Eye Sports) added 6 points and 14 rebounds for the hosts. Top scorers: Akhisar Bld: T.Nelson 19+13reb+1ast, S.Yavuz 13+3reb+1ast, G.Esmer 6+2reb, D.Morrow 6+14reb+1ast, L.Demirci 3+2reb, C.Terzioglu 2+4reb+1ast Usak: J.Carter 14+10reb+6ast, O.Surucu 13+3reb+2ast, E.Buckner 11+4reb, S.Kavut 8+4reb+1ast, M.Emre Boztepe 6+4reb+1ast, M.Erol 5+4reb
The hosts trailed by 4 points at the halftime before their 33-26 charge in the second half, which allowed them to win the game. American point guard Khalid El-Amin (178-79, college: Connecticut) scored 16 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the charge for the winners and forward Gokhan Orcun Tunca (201-80) chipped in 14 points during the contest. Trabzonspor's coach Hasan Ozmeric used an eleven-player rotation in such tough game. American guard Alex Gordon (184-85, college: Vanderbilt) responded with 17 points (was perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line) and his fellow American import center John Ofoegbu (206-84, college: Idaho St.) scored 16 points and 8 rebounds. Top scorers: Yesilgiresun: A.Gordon 17+4reb+3ast, J.Ofoegbu 16+8reb, U.Turkoglu 9+2reb, M.Sevda 9+4reb+1ast, G.Gen 5+3reb+1ast, A.Ozdemir 3+1reb+1ast Trabzonspor: K.El-Amin 16+9reb+4ast, G.Orcun Tunca 14+4reb, K.Pinkney 10+7reb, A.Onder Kulcebas 9+5reb+1ast, Y.Akcay 5+1reb+4ast, A.Guney 4+3reb
TBL Round 2 of Quarter-Finals: Besiktas and Fenerbahce are out! - May 21, 2013
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Karsiyaka - Fener.Ulker 81-78 (2-0)
The hosts were tied at the half but managed to speed up in last two quarters eventually winning the game. Karsiyaka outrebounded Fenerbahce Ulker 39-26 including 26 on the defensive glass. 25 personal fouls committed by Fenerbahce Ulker helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. The best player for the winners was Nigerian center Alade Aminu (210-87, college: Georgia Tech) who scored 23 points and 9 rebounds [read more]
The hosts were tied at the half but managed to speed up in last two quarters eventually winning the game. Karsiyaka outrebounded Fenerbahce Ulker 39-26 including 26 on the defensive glass. 25 personal fouls committed by Fenerbahce Ulker helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. The best player for the winners was Nigerian center Alade Aminu (210-87, college: Georgia Tech) who scored 23 points and 9 rebounds. American point guard Bobby Dixon (178-83, college: Troy, agency: Beo Basket) chipped in 15 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. The former international center Oguz Savas (212-87) produced 22 points and the former international guard Omer Onan (194-78) added 13 points and 6 rebounds respectively for the guests. Four Fenerbahce Ulker players scored in double figures. Fenerbahce Ulker's coach tried various players' combinations and tested in total eleven players in this game, but that didn't help. Top scorers: Fener.Ulker: O.Savas 22+4reb+1ast, B.McCalebb 14+1reb+2ast, O.Onan 13+6reb+3ast, B.Bogdanovic 11+3reb+2ast, I.Karaman 7+3reb, E.Preldzic 5+5reb+8ast Karsiyaka: A.Aminu 23+9reb+1ast, B.Dixon 15+5reb+7ast, U.Sonkol 12+8reb+3ast, E.Buker 8+1reb+4ast, W.Thomas 7+9reb+2ast, J.Diebler 6+2reb
The game was mostly controlled by Galatasaray. Tofas was better in third quarter 15-11. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They dominated on the defensive end, holding Tofas to just 4 points in fourth quarter. Galatasaray had a 31-19 advantage in offensive rebounds. American swingman Jamont Gordon (193-87, college: Mississippi St.) orchestrated the victory by scoring 21 points. Naturalized American power forward Ersin Dagli (203-81, college: Alabama, agency: Interperformances) contributed with 10 points and 6 rebounds for the winners. Nigerian power forward Chinemelu Elonu (206-87, college: Texas A&M) replied with a double-double by scoring 11 points and 11 rebounds and the former international guard Can Altintig (195-87) added 11 points in the effort for Tofas. The winner was already known earlier in the game, so both coaches allowed to play the bench players saving starting five for next games. Top scorers: Tofas: C.Elonu 11+11reb+1ast, C.Altintig 11+4reb+3ast, J.Heytvelt 9+2reb, I.Koc 7+3reb+1ast, I.Yildirim 4+1reb, T.Ruzic 4+2reb Galatasaray: J.Gordon 21+3reb+2ast, M.Macvan 11+5reb, E.Dagli 10+6reb+1ast, C.Akyol 10+1ast, M.Markoishvili 9+1reb+1ast, E.Arslan 9+1ast
The guests trailed by 6 points after three quarters before their 29-16 charge, which allowed them to win the game. Banvit BK made 23-of-28 free shots (82.1 percent) during the game, while Besiktas only scored six points from the stripe. American-Azerbaijani center Charles Davis (205-84, college: Alabama) scored 23 points and 7 rebounds (on 9-of-11 shooting from the field) to lead the charge for the winners and Dominican-American guard Sammy Mejia (198-83, college: De Paul) chipped in 13 points during the contest. Four Banvit BK players scored in double figures. The former international power forward Cevher Ozer (206-83, agency: 1x1 Sports) responded with 20 points and 7 rebounds and the former international guard Muratcan Guler (192-80, agency: 1x1 Sports) scored 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Both coaches used bench players which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. Top scorers: Besiktas: C.Ozer 20+7reb+1ast, M.Guler 14+6reb+4ast, S.Cetin 14+1ast, P.Christopher 10+1reb+1ast, G.Vidmar 7+8reb+1ast, D.Markota 4+2reb+1ast Banvit BK: C.Davis 23+7reb, S.Erdogan 16+2ast, S.Mejia 13+3reb+3ast, K.Lucas 11+2reb+6ast, S.Edge 5+2reb+1ast, K.Simmons 5
The game was mostly controlled by Anadolu Efes. TED Kolejliler was better in third quarter 22-19. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Anadolu Efes shot 63.3 percent from the field. Anadolu Efes had a 29-15 advantage in offensive rebounds. They shot the lights out from three nailing 12 long-distance shots on high 66.7 percentage. Serbian Dusko Savanovic (204-83, agency: Beo Basket) notched 22 points and 8 rebounds (perfect from the field making all nine shots !!!) to lead the effort and American swingman Joshua Shipp (196-86, college: UCLA) supported him with 17 points and 7 assists (on 8-of-9 shooting from the field). Anadolu Efes' coach Oktay Mahmudi allowed to play the deep bench players saving starting five for next games. Even a double-double of 11 points and 11 assists by American point guard Ben Woodside (180-85, college: N.Dakota St., agency: Priority Sports) did not help to save the game for TED Kolejliler. Forward Nedim Yucel (203-79) added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the hosts. Four Anadolu Efes and five TED Kolejliler players scored in double figures. Top scorers: TED Kolejliler: V.Plisnic 16+5reb+1ast, K.Penney 16+3reb+1ast, J.Stanojevic 14+1reb+2ast, B.Woodside 11+1reb+11ast, N.Yucel 10+13reb, A.Kavaklioglu 5+1reb+2ast Anadolu Efes: D.Savanovic 22+8reb+3ast, K.Tunceri 19+2ast, J.Shipp 17+4reb+7ast, S.Guler 14+2reb+1ast, S.Erden 8+7reb+2ast, E.Kuqo 8+3reb+3ast
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