Laso and Pascual, the favorites to replace Ataman

Bench dance in the Euroleague. Just a few days after talk of his possible final departure from Anadolu Efes, Ergin Ataman seems set to sign for Greek side Panathinaikos. The middle sdnafrom the same country, has been in charge of advancing the news, ensuring that the agreement would be for the next two seasons. Thus ends the intense rumors surrounding the coach, the most successful in recent years in Europe and who led Efes to the conquest of the last two Euroleagues, winning the first against Barcelona and the second against Real Madrid. Quite an achievement for the also coach of Turkey, who has not been able to recover his team this year and has confirmed the cataclysm: 17-17, eleventh place in the top continental competition, out of the playoffs and confirmation of what has been the end of an era.

The image of Ataman heading towards the changing room tunnel with more than half a minute to go in the match between Efes and Fenerbahçe is not only the perfect representation of farewell to a dynasty, also a very precise definition of the particular personality of a coach who leaves no one indifferent. The one with the statements that were always direct, sometimes humorous and almost always interesting, which caused rivers of ink and gave journalists many headlines. The leader on the bench of a historically good team, full of generational talents, who always managed to beat the greatest with the fear that he imprinted on his rivals, first at a press conference and then on the court. Ataman said goodbye true to his style; somehow had to attract attention. And he left through the back door, but he has always been the owner of the front door. A peculiar type. A legendary template. And an Efes that, of course, is no longer there.

But his departure opens the arrival of another and, according to what he publishes eurohoops, the favorites are Pablo Laso and Xavi Pascual. Laso, like Ataman twice Euroleague champion (2015 and 2018), It’s been almost a year without a team. Real Madrid decided to break their relationship (he signed in the summer of 2011) shortly after the man from Vitoria suffered a heart attack during the Euroleague playoff. The white club explained that his decision was due to medical reasons and decided that his position should be occupied by Chus Mateountil then Laso’s assistant and who had taken charge of the team during the playoffs for the title.

Pascual won the Euroleague in 2010 and has a contract with Zenit Saint Petersburgwith which he renewed in 2021 for three more seasons, although he maintains an option to break your relationship this summer. Due to the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian teams are not playing any of the European competitions. Pascual replaced Ivanovic at the helm of the Barça team in 2008 and, although initially he was only going to be there until the end of the season, stayed until 2016. That summer he headed for Panathinaikos, where he spent two seasons. In 2020 he committed to Zenit, his current team.

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A disastrous year at Anadolu Efes

Returning to the case of Ataman, it is strange that the Turks are no longer in the playoff qualifiers, which will begin next week (they will be held from April 25 to May 10). And it is that we are not only talking about the recent two-time champion and current Euroleague champion, also from a team that reached the final in 2019 (lost to CSKA) and was first in 2020 before the appearance of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been four years in which a fantastic and, at the same time, historic team has been formed: since Olympiacos no one has repeated the title (2012 and 2013). In the 21st century, only the Maccabi also makes it to this list. To see a treble you have to go to Split, which won the last three editions of the old European Cup (from 1988 to 1991). In those was the Efes, in search of the triplet. Nothing is further from reality.

Panathinaikos needed a new face. The management of Dejan Radonjić, who will leave at the end of the season, has not been the best and the team has been very resentful throughout the season: In the Greek League it has been very far, by level and sensations, from Olympiacos, which leads it with a record of 22-0 that contrasts with that of Panathinaikos itself, second classified with a 16-6. But it has still been the situation in the Euroleague, with a very poor penultimate position, only ahead of ASVEL Villerubanne and with a 9-23 record. A disastrous season that forced a change that will become official when the season ends, summer arrives and, in addition, a necessary reconstruction. That will lead, of course, Ergin Ataman. That he said, nothing less, that he wanted to be the next Zeljko Obradovic at Panathinaikos. The Turk is undoubtedly one of the most charismatic personalities in world basketball and a coach with a spectacular resume. Now, we need to know how he will continue his trajectory. We will see.

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