Chougaz : " Tough and bossy because I love my players"
As Head Coach of the Union Tarbes since the end of November, Greek Chistianos Chougaz, managed, in just three months, to create a momentum which allows the U'Boys to foresee a more exciting end of season than what they seemed to be intended for. After the first leg. Which is well worth the encouragement at the end of the regular season.
The last game of the regular season is already tonight. Time flies...
It's been exactly three months since I arrived here, with a first match in Caen on 29th November 2019. The guys really did a great job because after the first leg, the record was 2 wins for 11 losses (then reduced to 4 wins for 9 losses after recovering two wins on the green carpet, editor's note). No one gave us the slightest chance of being in the group B race, but this qualification is possible. It's in our hands, we have to win. And to show that we are always difficult to play at home. Le Quai is a bit like our Acropolis, a territory to preserve.
Being able to balance (6 wins, 7 defeats) is also on your mind, right?
A 50-50 would be nice. If it is necessary to make a first assessment, it is obviously more positive than negative. I’m happy every day in training and I told the players this morning (yesterday) how proud I am. They have the motivation and the elements, this young group seem to have a bright future. There has been progress, especially in defense. We are among the (3rd) best defense in NM1. We want to finish and do something that no one expected.
Would not qualifying be a big disappointment?
Of course ! And I will be very disappointed also if we manage to reach this group B if we lose this last match (provided that the results of other teams are favorable, read opposite). I trust the team. The most important thing is the investment, the desire to play with your heart.
Your style, a kind of mixture between authority and proximity to the players, surprises. Are you aware of this?
I do not realize this. But I'm hard on giving myself a style. I am a bit bossy, because I love my players. And I want them to always be better. They trust me. Yes, I am demanding but it is for their own interest, striving to be the best they can be. To fully understand my approach, I will give you an example. I am tough with my sons. Of course, I love them but I have to be tough with them so that they evolve in the best possible way in life. It's the same in basketball being a Head coach.
In France, we are not necessarily used to hearing such words ...
I come from another school, from another basketball culture: that of thoroughness, discipline and passion. French basketball focuses on athletic strength and talents. Merging these two worlds can give you something really interesting.
How do you explain that, in such a short time, you have managed to unite in your person on all the structure levels of the club?
Really ? I don't realize it (laughs)! I do things naturally, without calculating. It all stems from the common passion we have for this game. The club is well run by good people. And I like this southwestern mentality. I find this Mediterranean side, here, in people. There is enthusiasm and I will make people go mader (smile).
Regarding your future, what is your wish for next year? Stay in the Pyrenees? Seek for a higher level elsewhere?
I am focused on this end of the season in order to finish as high as possible. Nothing has been decided yet but there is a great feeling with this Union club and its leaders.
Original text in French HERE