Having won the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and ING Basketball Super League championships, Anadolu Efes head coach Ergin Ataman attended the program with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum and answered the questions of the youth.
Ergin Ataman, “If Fenerbahce’s offer comes, will he accept it?” He answered the question as follows:
“Now let me say this: This question is asked in every interview I do with the press, but frankly, I did not expect this question here. Here it is necessary to answer like a politician, but I am a person who speaks the truth. After all, there is serious and very good competition. So far, I have won the championship with teams other than Fenerbahçe. Besides Beşiktaş and Galatasaray, now I have become the champion of both Turkey and Europe with Anadolu Efes.
Inevitably, there may be some disagreements and blood disputes in this competition. That’s why I honestly don’t think any Fenerbahce administration will make such an offer to me in the future. Besides, I’m currently in the best, most organized, most corporate and most successful club in Europe. Anadolu Group invests a lot in this business. Not only at the A-Team level, but also at the youth level, it screens close to 100-150 players, gives them scholarships and trains them. He trains players for national teams. Almost all of the players who went to the NBA are from us. Hidayet (Türkoğlu), Mehmet Okur, now Cedi (Osman)…
That’s why I’m very happy at Anadolu Efes. Not Fenerbahce, I received many offers from Europe this year, but my goal is to continue the championships with my team, my country’s team. Hopefully, maybe someday in the future, something that has never happened before. The NBA, you know, is now the top of show business. To date, they have not recruited any European coach in the history of NBA basketball. Maybe, as a Turk, we can win consecutive championships in Europe and break new ground for Europe there as well. This is my next target, not Fenerbahçe.”
Ergin Ataman said the following about his motivation to represent his country:
“There are many young friends here, and these friends generally reflect my achievements in the last 5-10 years; They know Galatasaray, Beşiktaş or Anadolu Efes, but the best feelings for me are, at a very young age of 36, I transferred to Siena team in Italy and became the first Turkish professional basketball coach to coach a team in Europe. .
I went there, it was a mid-level team, and at the first introductory meeting I said, ‘I came here for Siena to become the European champions’. I said I would make the European champion. Italian journalists laughed at me at the press conference. The headlines the next day were: ‘Imaginary Turkish coach, how long will it last?’ At the end of that year, we became European champions. We won the Saporta Cup.
Siena is one of the most aristocratic cities in Tuscany, Italy. The next year, in the first match, that aristocratic supporter, 10 thousand fans, greeted me with Turkish flags. Now, the pleasure, the feeling it gives, cannot be exchanged for anything.
Finally, let me say this: Maybe we are fighting with Fenerbahce and Beşiktaş inside, we are fighting. Political parties are in contention with my minister’s own party. There is internal conflict, but when the subject is outside, when the subject is Turkey, we are all together. Look, we became champions, I have to say that too. Of course, our esteemed President, our esteemed ministers, the heads of almost all political parties, many mayors called and congratulated them. We can unite under one flag.
Among these congratulations, the one that impressed me the most was the following: Our Minister of National Defense called. ‘Ergin teacher, I was at the front when you became champion and I had a radio in my hand. Those soldiers, our Mehmetçik, all of them at the front were screaming, ‘You are our champions’. That was the most important pleasure for me.”
Ataman said, “Is it difficult to discipline a team of rich, famous and popular people? What are your methods?” He answered the question as follows:
“I am more famous than them. My ego is bigger than theirs.
Now, sharing is very important. Of course, you have to provide that authority with my players on the field, but off the field I try to be friends with them and help them in their private lives. In other words, you need to have a relationship like a brother-sister, father-son relationship, otherwise what he says is very true: Egos are too high, earnings are too high. Are there tensions in the family from time to time? Of course, we also have some tensions, but we can eliminate all of them.
The most important thing here is to have good intentions. That is, to be well-intentioned and sincere. What a player cares most about is playing. As a coach, you will give credit to what is good.
One of the most important things for us is that when we become European champions, we have Turkish heroes in our team, not just a Turkish coach. Chief among these is our center Sertaç Şanlı. Sertaç was our third center, he could not play, could not enter. But after that, a chance came to him and he started playing very well. He was the player who played the most and got the most efficiency in the team. This is sincerity. Remunerate…
For us passport, age is not important. Sertaç was perhaps one of our players who received the least amount of money when compared to foreigners in our team. But he was the best of the bigs and he got the best minute. He became one of the Turkish heroes. This is the most important thing: fairness and goodwill.”
Regarding the structuring of the team next season, Ataman said:
“There are a lot of candidates from the NBA, especially Vasilije Micic, but we are doing everything we can to keep them. While we were worried about Micic, Sertaç Şanlı’s Barcelona transfer came out. He’s talking very seriously right now. Although, during our last visit, our esteemed President was also a little offended by him. ‘What are you doing? Is it possible to leave the first team and go to the second team?’ said. I’m saying the same thing.
Let’s see, it will be clear today. But there may be changes in teams from time to time. There may be 1-2 changes. The key is to keep the foundation solid. We will keep the foundation firm. We will set the target as the summit in Europe in the same way.”
While giving advice to young people, Ataman said:
“We will trust ourselves, friends, it is the greatest diplomacy. We are a big country. When we trust ourselves in every field, we have the power to do the best. Who found the most important vaccine while the whole world was dealing with the pandemic? He found two Turkish doctors.
We are competitors in our field, the biggest in Europe: Real Madrid, Barcelona, CSKA, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos… No, we believed in ourselves. We have been working hard for three years. We have never taken a step back. We encountered some difficulties. Mobbing was tried to be applied to us, but we gave this answer on the field and we somehow let them know their limits outside the field. When you win, when you are strong, you are always right.
My goal was actually to be a diplomat, but I could not win the faculty of political sciences. I won the business, that was my luck. Years later, we tried to represent Turkey in the best possible way with successes such as an ambassador and a diplomat at the head of teams that have been successful in Europe for 20 years. That’s my advice to you too. Always think ahead. Yes, we are Turkish and we are smarter than many European coaches, students and scientists. We do these things better. Let’s show our strength. I am a very nationalist person, you can see this from my feelings.”