Mitoglou: Pitino has the aura and the rationale of a winner

Dinos Mitoglou knew in the past summer that the requirements would rise sharply for this 2018-19 season. With him evolving as an indispensable Panathinaikos OPAP player, the days that the Wake Forest graduate would serve as a solution for domestic games only seem far behind.

The “Greens” made a conscious decision. With Chris Singleton and Kenny Gabriel leaving OAKA and Deshaun Thomas arriving, Xavi Pascual had sent his own message to Mitoglou that this year he would be given the opportunity to stand tall at the highest level. The game against CSKA Moscow provided another occasion to the young and versatile forward to shine bright, matching up with opponents that would intimidate even Euroleague veterans.

Dinos Mitoglou commented on the victory of Panathinaikos OPAP over CSKA Moscow, explaining what Rick Pitino managed to change in such a short period of time.

This is what he said to TalkBasket.net after his team’s seventh win in the competition:

Q: How do you explain your team’s performance?

A: The arrival of the new coach brought another perspective and some new things. He lifted up our morale, with the aura and the rationale of a winner. We showed that we are not willing to surrender and that we will fight for every ball. We used our hands very much, reduced the energy of CSKA and that gave us the victory.

Q: Was it a matter of mentality or defensive tactics?

A: I would say that the arrival of our new coach mainly changed our psychology. Indeed, we came in with a different mentality.

Q: Was that the reason why the shots were falling?

A: We were sure that someday it would happen. It was, however, the first time that we shot the ball so well at a Euroleague game this season. Hence, the presence of coach Pitino may also have affected this.

Q: Do you agree that the “key” to the game was the defense on De Colo and Rodriguez?

A: For sure. We managed to get them out of the game and make them play worse than usual. They are very good players. We got a big margin and now we have to build on this result.

Q: Was it also a response to the criticism that you’ve been subjected to lately?

A: We wanted a great victory to escape from the bad results and take a step forward. It happened and we have to move on. It is important that we protected our home court and won by a big margin. I did not know it was Panathinaikos’s second biggest victory over CSKA, but I do know that we all needed it. We made our fans happy, but we enjoyed it too.

Q: What will the team need to return to play-off orbit?

A: From now on, we have to win all the home games and, as the coach said, we must also win at least half of the away games. This is our goal.

Q: There are two matches coming up, one against Promitheas for the Greek League and another against Olympiacos for the Euroleague. How do you approach them?

A: We will play these games with another morale. We made a great win and our psychology is now much better.

Q: I’m asking this because Rick Pitino said that he met players who were feeling defeated.

A: I’m not sure that this was the main issue. Simply, the defeats had influenced us and we felt it was all downhill for the team. Everything was going down the drain. We needed a boost and managed to offer it to ourselves on the court tonight.