TalkBasket presents you our first interview. A young and promising coach Georgis Dikeoulakos answers our questions. He was born in Athens in 1969 but already has great experience. For the past 11 years he has worked as an assistant coach in the Greek A1 league (Olympiakos, Panionios, Panellinios, Dafni, and other clubs).

He has participated with some of these teams in Euroleague, ULEB Cup, Fiba Cup, and with the women’s National Team of Greece in Eurobasket 2007 in Italy. He has worked alongside many experienced coaches (Slobodan Subotic, Dirk Bauerman, Kostas Missas, Giorgos Kalafatakis etc). We are extremely pleased that the coach will be posting his ideas on TalkBasket. You have the opportunity to ask him anything that interests you simply by clicking ‘Ask the coach’ in the menu.

In 2006 he traveled to the States to the training camps of Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks from the NBA and De Paul, Marquette, Northwestern, S.Francis from NCAA. He teaches “scouting in Basketball” at the University of physical education in Athens, and at the school for basketball coaches in Greece. He also teaches in many international clinics in Greece and abroad. He has written many articles to basketball magazines-newspapers and websites.

Many of his ex-players are World – European Champions and NBA stars. To name a few: Theodoros Papaloukas, Alfonso Ford, Stephane Risacher, Mihalis Pelekanos, Misan Nikagbatse, Patrick Femerling, Nikos Ekonomou, Anthony Goldwire, Georgios Papanikolaou, Tomic, N’Daye, Savrasenko, Buck Williams, Blue Edwards and WNBA players Maltsi and Kostaki from women basketball. He speaks Serbo-Croatian, English and Spanish.

What brought you to basketball and when did you realize that this is what you want to do?

I really don’t know how it all started and why I finally stayed in Basketball. Since I was a kid I was in love with every kind of sport. My father and my relatives who were professors of physical eucation helped on that, but I think that my first coach in basketball inspired me for that sport. After my first game I knew that I’ll never stop serving this sport. That’s a very good example of what a coach can make to a child’s heart-mind-soul. He can make him love or hate basketball, everything is up to him!

When did you start coaching and what was your first team?

I started to coach young players in ex-Yugoslavia, in the team that I was a player, K.K. Kosovo Polje.

Do you have a player or a coach idol? Who?

Right now I don’t have idols, but I respect and admire the work, philosophy and ethics that present Obradovic and Messina. From the players, I have stuck on three guys. Galis, Petrovic and Jordan. I am a fan of a “team play” and not of the “one man show”, but these players are the only that have prooved that they didn’t need teammates.

Who is the coach that helped you most for your carrer?

I can say many, but I wouldn’t be the same person and the same coach if I haven’t met the head coach of the Greek women’s NT and for many years head coach of many A1 Greek teams, Kostas Missas or “the teacher” as he is called in Greece. Also Aca Nikolic, “the proffesor of the Yugoslavian basketball”, show me the deep thoughts of basketball. Those who had ever met or just talking with Aca Nikolic about basketball, knows what I’m talking about.

What does it take to be a good coach?

Well it takes a big number of things. Being patient, having personallity, love for your work, insisting on details, willing to learn, good public relations…etc. But at the first position I’ll put two things that raise up a coach at the stock market of basketball, as a coach and as a personallity:

a) Be a teacher to your players, not only a coach;

b) Be yourself, don’t be the dublicate of somebody super coach.

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

I am realistic. When you work in pro basketball you can only see the next steps or the next couple of months. No matter how great you are, how many great seasons you had, four-five bad perfomances in a row can cost you your job for the rest of the season. And two-three seasons like this can cost you your career. So right now I work only for my next step. I would like to walk to a road that never ends, so at the next 10 years I’ll still have visions for a new next step. But the first thing that came to my mind when you asked this question, was, I see myself with my family full of health and happiness. Really, this is the only wish that I have for the next years. Keep us healthy with love around and let me fight for the others things.

Are you thinking about taking a head coach role?

Yes of course, but I think that the best for me is to start my head coaching career outside Greece. There is a lot of pressure in Greece and the presidents of the teams don’t give opportunities to young coaches, and when they do that they are not so patient. So I am always open for a European team.

Greek women’s national team finished 13th in Eurobasket 2007. What are the targets for the future?

Greek women’s basketball is not so good as men’s basketball. There are lots of reasons for that. Lack of tall players, bad organization, amateur clubs and players. But in our country there is love over the odds for basketball and that’s why we have some great players, two of them played at the WNBA. Although we brought young girls to the team, we made an excellant route to the qualification round and everybody saw that a new strong team in Europe has been born. But at the Eurobasket we were very very unlucky cause from the first round we draw to the same group with the world champion Russia, the home team Italy, and one of the best teams in the world France. We tried to go against the prognostication but we were too inexperienced for such rivals. We know that we have to continue the good work and the results will come for sure, a bad draw at the past cannot brush the future.

Let’s do some prediction. Which four teams do you think can make it to Euroleague Final Four?

That’s a really tough question, cause it’s too early, and many teams haven’t given their 100%. It seems that after Panathinaikos and CSKA, many teams fighting for the F4, having equal chances. But if I have to take the risk, I would say Real Madrid with my last year player Pelekanos, and Barcelona with my friend Dusko Ivanovic. But don’t erase from your lists Siena (they play excellant), Malaga (more experienced than previous years), my ex-team Olimpiakos (unbelievable roster).

Can anyone stop Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow?

I love the way that Real Madrid play and I think that if they qualify to the F4, they gonna have one more advantage since the F4 will be held in Madrid, so maybe this is the only team that can stop them.

What do you think about the path that European basketball is on? Is there anything that should be changed?

There is always room for improvement, and European basketball has improved a lot. I can say 100% in many aspects. But there are some sore points which we must close. European basketball must stop working like “the lobby” of the NBA. If we can’t keep some players in Europe like Ginobili or Scola it’s ok, no problem, because young excellant talents are ready to take their positions in the big clubs. But the problem is when these talents are in a hurry, they play only a year or two in Europe and then they go to the NBA before even playing for a big club, or in the Euroleague, or even for the National team. See the example of Darko Milicic. He was playing for Hemofarm, he had no European experience except some FIBA cup games, he wasn’t even among 16 of his national team players. He went to the NBA where he was sweeping the bench for four years, and thank God, slowly he starts to find his way , but if we go four years to the past, we’ll see that the expectations for him were so high. We lose many pure talents like that and there is no progress like that.

The other thing that we must focus on is, that there is number of countries (and among them, some with great basketball history) like Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Sweden, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria and so many others, which have not developed their basketball as we would like. Imagine if these countries had also competitive basketball, how much better it would be for European basketball. I really cannot understand how it is possible for a country like Czech Republic, to have the best NT in Europe in women’s basketball, but they are nowhere in the map of men’s basketball.

At this time you are free, you don’t coach any team. How a coach without a team spends his time?

Well, I feel like the lion inside a small cage. For the whole day I must think about basketball, like I did it when I had a team. I watch four-five games everyday: Euroleague, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Greek leagues, Uleb Cup, NCAA. When NBA playoffs will start, I’ll start watching these too.

I am writing a book (almost finished) about scouting, which is unique in the world bibliografy and it will be translated in six languages at least. I am also the director of exports of some great softwares for coaches of all sports and I also spend some time on this. About these softwares I hope we’ll discuss later on this site.

Thank you coach for answering our questions and all the best in your future career.