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Rick Pitino reminded Kentucky of his debut in the EuroLeague



Rick Pitino compared the atmosphere of Panathinaikos with that of his old house in Kentucky after winning his EuroLeague debut on Friday as coach of Greek basketball club 96-84 against CSKA Moscow.

Pitino can be thousands of miles away at Kentucky's Rupp Arena, where he coached from 1989-90 to 1996-97, or KFC Yum! Center, where he served as Louisville coach until his shooting last year, said that the enthusiastic crowd in Athens had a familiar feeling.

"It reminded me of Kentucky," he said after the game. "Just like that, and that's the highest compliment I give to every audience, because I've always thought that basketball is a religion in Kentucky, and the fans motivated us tonight to play this kind of defense."

The Hall of Fame The coach, who was fired after 17 years in Louisville as part of an FBI investigation for recruitment, Panathinaikos took over a week ago. He sees it as a step backwards to train again in the NBA.

"I'm really impressed, it's really impressive." An honor to train this team, "Pitino said after the game." I said to the owner of the team that he congratulated me and said, "It's my honor and thank you for having me."

Pitino Preparing for the match by watching a movie of five games, he said It was immediately clear that Panathinaikos needed to improve his defense and pass. A clip posted by the league showed Pitino, who was torn into his team on Friday because he was on the offensive, and said that creating offensive moves was his primary goal.

"My message to her was that you did not get noticed by watching five films if you play the kind of defense you play, "he said. "The second thing I told them is," Everyone says you guys can not shoot. That's not true. "I tested them with some shooting practice, and I said," You guys can shoot, the problem is you can not survive. & # 39; I said, "Because you have an average of 13 assists per game and four guys are watching you, if you get ball movements and keep passing the basketball, you'll overshoot them over the 3-point line, and we had 20 assists tonight They are three points better, and they are an excellent shooting team.

"So it's not the imbalance, it's the passing loads, and they were great tonight."

Half of these Panathinaikos assistants came from The Former Florida Star Nick Calathes, who was named last year by the entire EuroLeague national team.

"Calathes, I do not know what you're paying him, but he's worth every penny you pay him because he has the stamina I have not seen a few players, "said Pitino.

Rick Pitino led Panathinaikos on Friday to a rare win against CSKA Moscow. GEORGIA PANAGOPOULOU / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock

Panathinaikos improved to 7 -8, well into 11th place in the 16-member league mid-season, after impressive results Third place CSKA dropped to 11-4. The eight best teams form the playoffs, which begin in April.

Calathes said Pitino's presence has made a difference, as Panathinaikos has only scored the fifth since their last 18 attempts against CSKA since 2011.

"You could say it was us We were hungrier, we were more persistent, more defensive, offensive," he said. "You know, it was just a great win and hopefully everything will build up for the next games."

Pitino said his only problem so far was to pronounce the names of his players, so he opted for nicknames like "Skywalker" for Lukas Lekavicius and "The Flash" for Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the NBA's older brother. Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Pitino was also welcomed by Kyle Kuric, his former player in Louisville, who is now at Louisville, Barcelona.

"It's good to see that coach does what he loves! Great Victory @ Rick_Pitino !!" Kuric wrote on Twitter. "Welcome to @EuroLeague, see you in a few weeks!"


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