David Blatt, who gained worldwide respect and possibly a future NBA head coach job this summer by winning the Eurobasket with the Russian squad, signed a contract with the Turkish team Efes Pilsen Istanbul in June this year. The management of the Euroleague team changed for the first time its coach for the last six years, so now Blatt has to show that he is the right man to lead Efes Pilsen to their long awaited dream which they have not reached now for 7 years: the Euroleague Final 4.
David Blatt, who played during four years at Princeton in the NCAA, is known for being a very successful coach. He won national or international titles with nearly every team he coached in the past years. Now the addition of Blatt to Efes Pilsen gives the possibility to form a very competitive and well coached team. The present players were mostly recruited by Blatt himself, as he states in a recent article in the Turkish Daily News. He also explains on today’s team presentation on Euroleague TV what he wants to do with his new team and clearly sets the Final 4 of the Euroleague as a target for this season.
Blatt first international appearance with Efes will be in the NBA Europe Live Challenge on the 6th October, where he will face the totally renewed Minnesota Timberwolves in Istanbul. Before this game, nba.com featured an interview with the new Wolves head coach Randy Wittman. The NBA coach is asked his opinion about Blatt and the European game in general, and he is not quite sure what to think about the upcoming game against the Turks. “I don’t know a lot about the team. Like I said, I know more about the coach.” said Wittman. He describes Blatt as a person that “can bring people together“. Maybe this is one of the main qualities of Blatt that will help him to form a competitive Euroleague teamin Istanbul, like he did with the Russian National team this summer.
Both teams were known over the last years for being hugely talented but also highly unsuccessful and doing the wrong choices in the crucial moments. The addition of coach Blatt changed this dramatically in a positive way for the Russian team by assembling the right players and by having the cold-blooded guys on the court in the hot moments. And I think he will be able to do the same job with Efes Pilsen in this year’s Euroleague, and so I predict the team from the Bosporus as one of my potential Final 4 candidates.