Brno - for five play-off seasons just dreamed of fighting for a rescue rather than being at the front row. Even this year, things were not developing well for the basketball players of egoe Brno. In the middle of November, the club was fretfully left by the Slovenian coach Dejan Jakar, who was replaced by Greek strategist coach Chris Chougaz.
The team under his leadership first picked up performance and then picked up the result, and from the eighth position moved to the elite superstructure A1, ensuring at least the qualifying round of play-off.
In this first round Brno basketball players won 81-80 the fourth in the ranking team of Pardubice.
"I am happy for the progress and the improvement but this is not the end for us. We want to keep improving" says the 50-year old Chougaz in an interview for the Rovnost daily.
What is the main cause of ascension?
Brno is a is a good team full of young talented players who did not believe in themselves. The self-confidence of the young players is volatile and has been influenced by a series of defeats. First I had to invest a lot of time so that those boys would be hungry to play while improving and demonstrating their skills. I also focused on discipline and then taught them the rules of my system.
What is your system?
Modern basketball is based on energy, speed and clearly defined rules , which must be strictly followed. But you need "hungry" players to do that. All of these elements include my system, I just had to teach the boys and to convince them about it.
Best performances include the American trio Deremy Geiger, Reginald Keely and Davell Roby. Are the other players a little in their shadow?
What is important is that all three Americans have, in addition to excellent skills, a great character. They comply to my rules, they do not create scandals outside the court and they are friendly and team oriented players. But it's not just about them. I do not like teams that are composed exclusively of foreign players. I'm glad when the foreigners are just one part of the team like in Brno. I always say home basketball players are the heart and soul of the team. We did not improve because the Americans started to do well, but because the Czech boys were improving a lot.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
We want to advance to the playoffs. It's a good thing to play at the A1 superstructure, although the distance from the sixth position (providing a direct presence at the the playoffs, otherwise the team is on waiting round) is big. We will face tough matches ahead, against opponents of great quality and we want to get to the seventh position.
Why did you actually accept Brno's offer?
My main priority is to work with young people. Some clubs are afraid to invest on the young, which is not the case for Brno. Plus, I'm having fun exploring new things, and that's why I'm so often moving. In my career I traveled a lot of countries and played or trained many clubs.
What impresses you working with young people?
I like challenges and I like their spirit and their passion. You will never lose when you give a talented young man a chance.
But isn't this also the disadvantage that you can not easily win titles with such a young roster?
If I had this approach, I would never win a title in Austria with Oberwart. We had the youngest team at the time, and no one expected us to do it. We won what we could. I told the players in the locker room that one person can change the world. What if eleven men had the same goal. We also need help from outside, either from the club or the fans. That's why I hope we will be able to attract more people to basketball in Brno.
Basketball, however, is generally in the Czech Republic in the shadow of other sports.
I am jealous of the popularity hockey has in Brno. But we also have to let people know about us. That we play the highest competition and we can write a fairy tale together. We started from scratch and now, thanks to hard work, will and passion, we can go higher. In general, basketball in the Czech Republic must get closer to children, to create an academy for them. And there's a lot to be done to make basketball fun and create strong bonds for the game.
What is your opinion about the Czech league?
It is very good, I like Czech players who have talent, but they need to be motivated more in basketball, because it is not the number one sport as it is in Greece. Good leadership is also important.
How do you like in Brno?
I'm happy here. It is a very nice city. I do not like big cities but I rather prefer quieter places, this is why I moved in the smaller town of Marathon back in Greece, which is similar to Brno. Here I like the sights and one can find anything he needs. In addition, the Czechs are very friendly people. The only thing I'm not getting used to in Brno is the long winter.
Author: Václav Petrů
source: Rovnost daily.