Rick Pitino is the new coach of six-time Euroleague champion Panathinaikos. The legendary NCAA coach arrived in Athens on Wednesday and announced he has already signed his contract until the end of the season and will be present at the evening’s training session.
In his first statement after landing in the Greek capital the US coach showed he had extensive knowledge of Panathinaikos, its next opponents, European basketball and the needs the Greens have.
“I’m excited to be here. This is the first time in the 41 years of my career that I have taken over at a team halfway through the season. I have already signed [the contract] and I am ready to go to training at 17.00,” said the former Louisville coach.
“The European game is very good. It is more natural than the NBA at the moment. The Euroleague franchises are very talented, such as Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow.
“This is a great challenge for me. We have a negative record that we need to correct,” he said referring to the Greens’ 6-8 record in Europe.
“The first thing I’ll need to do is get to know the players well, see the team’s strong and weak points and then decide what we need. I know we got an issue with shooting and we need to create defenses that will make it hard for the opponent,” 66-year-old Pitino stated.
His first game on the Panathinaikos bench is expected to be Sunday’s league match at Promitheas Patras.
Caretaker Giorgos Vovoras will coach the team at the home game against CSKA Moscow on Friday.