It was apparent from the nearly 100 questions he received from all over Europe and beyond that Fan Mail guest Oktay Mahmuti, head coach of Efes Pilsen, has already made a huge impact despite being one of the Euroleague's youngest coaches. Under Mahmuti, Efes has done everything right short of making the Final Four during several seasons. Following his team's big road victory at Olympiacos last week to march into yet another Top 16, it is apparent that Efes has the capabilities to do big things again this season. Now, as Mahmuti said in on Fan Mail answer, it's a question of consistency. "We trust and believe in the guys we brought in at the beginning of the season, and we try to stay with the guys we have from beginning to end," Oktay said in response to one Fan Mail question. "Of course, sometimes you have to improve on the details, but at this point, what we need most is to improve in terms of our consistency on the court. That is the main thing we need."
Dear Oktay Mahmuti: With the new offensive players added to the team, we saw Efes struggle on defense in the first couple Euroleague matches. Then we saw a change in Efes's style for maybe the first time in 10 years, Efes trying to play more offense rather than concentrating on defense. Was that a deliberate attempt by you or did the players take the initiative? Regards,
Murat Guven - UK
"First of all. I don't divide basketball into offense and defense. I think of both at the same time. Maybe before we were just playing great defense. The truth is that we are trying to do the same as before, but sometimes, as a new tem, the new players are not adjusted to that system. It's not that we changed the system. Some details, yes, but not the system itself."
Hi, coach. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Efes Pilsen. You transferred in some pretty spectacular players, like Jenkins and Haislip. You have always run a disciplined system with your team: is it risky for you to have such players who can get out of the system from time to time? I hope you keep coaching this team for many years,
Yusufcan Akyuz - Turkey
"Listen, to be spectacular, to the point that it's useful, is not a bad thing, it can work. Every player has an ability and a right to use initiative and to use his talent, but in the system. Up until that point, the system is not spoiled. Everybody can add something to improve the picture."
Dear Mr. Mahmuti. Could you tell us what must Efes improve in order to qualify to the quarterfinals and hopefully to the Final Four? Is it defense, offense or something else, maybe a new player who would give you another dimension in the game or improve the quality of your team? Thanks,
Mitja Krizan - Slovenia
"First, about the players, we can't talk about new ones. We trust and believe in the guys we brought in at the beginning of the season, and we try to stay with the guys we have from beginning to end. Of course, sometimes you have to improve on the details, but at this point, what we need most is to improve in terms of our consistency on the court. That is the main thing we need."
Dear, Coach. When will Antonio Granger be back on the roster? Good luck to you and us (fans) on the road to the Final Four!
Ugur Berkin - Dubai
"Granger will be with our team soon. He has started with us, practicing. Maybe against Bologna this week he will be on the roster. I don't know if he is ready yet, but he's with us. And we hope that, after so much time away, he will stay with us."
Mr. Mahmuti, first I want to congratulate you on the success of the last six seasons. Why is it that Efes cannot maintain stability at the playmaker position? Mulaomerovic, Kerem Tunceri, Ender Arslan, Popovic, Jenkins this year: almost all of them stay for one season, while everything is stable in the frontcourt. Could this be a reason that Efes hasn't been able to reach the Final Four, lack of chemistry due to not having a steady point guard since Naumoski?
Evren Tugcu - Turkey
"Sometimes you are forced to do some changes. For this reason, you cannot keep a guy and then you have new guys trying to adjust to the system. I think that the point guard position is very important, but we cannot talk about just one spot on the team. All of those guys mentioned - Mulaomerovic, Popovic, Tunceri, Arslan - were all good players, and Jenkins is, too. They all try to do their best at this position."
As a big fan of Efes Pilsen, I would like to ask Coach Oktay why almost every year does the team change four or five players? If we check out the teams who make it to the Final Four, they keep their roster for two or three years and just add specific parts. Thank you,
Nurhan Mikaelian - Istanbul, Turkey
"I agree that it's a good thing to have a stable roster and add only some new things. Sometimes, unfortunately, it becomes necessary to change the team. Players leave in the market conditions of the moment, and so you try to replace them with other good players. I don't complain about it, but if you ask me if I would like to play with the same team a few years and build the system like that, the answer is yes."
Coach, looking back over all your years with Efes Pilsen as both a head coach and assistant coach, if you could play a game over again, which would it be and why? Regards
A. Selcuk Kocum - Istanbul, Turkey
"Usually, I don't like to look into the past, always into the future. There were a lot of games that were good or bad in terms of experiences for us, some that were very painful in a way, but sometimes this is part of the job. But I am not a guy who likes living too much in the past. I always look forward."
Hi Oktay. First of all, congratulations for the great work that you have been doing at Efes since 2001. Do not you think that now it is time for you to try an experience in another high level basketball country like Spain or Italy? Thanks.
Adem Zengin - Spain
"I'm a professional. When I started coaching, all I was thinking about was someday coaching one of the biggest Euroleague teams. Now, I have reached this position, so I will try to stay in this position wherever I can in Europe. Right now, I am with a good club, so all I want is to have the best results with this team. I don't look at anything else nor spend my time thinking about it."
Coach Mahmuti, what do you think about basketball in Macedonia at this moment and about chances of the Macedonian national team to qualify for the 2007 European Championships in Spain. Since you were born in Macedonia, have you ever considered the possibility of coaching the national team? All the best,
Igor Krstevski - Skopje, Macedonia
"The Macedonian basketball national team showed in the elimination group paly that they have a right to count on playing in the European Championships. They have a lot of players playing around Europe, so they have a good team. About me, I am just a person doing my job. Often, people want to take me and put me in other positions, but still I only do my job. I don't get preoccupied myself with someday being the coach of the Macedonian national team. Other people may think about that, but I am not looking for a position."
Hi. You always seem to give young players a chance where other coaches would not take the risk. Bearing in mind that six years with a club is rare, do you think that Euroleague coaches have the responsibility to develop these young players rather than just winning games? How does one balance these two aspects? Thanks,
Ozgur Pars - Turkey
"Of course, it's very difficult to put those things together, but this is part of coaching. I think that for the future of basketball, you must give some credit to the young guy, but only credit, not privilege. This is something very difficult to divide. By giving credit and not privilege, I mean they have to fight for their position and their future. But of course, as coaches, we must invest in young players, too."
I have watched all your team's Euroleague matches, but in each one I see a different Efes Pilsen. Why we can't we see a stable Efes Pilsen for this season? Thanks and good luck,
Volkan Orman - Manisa, Turkey
"This is what I was saying before. At this moment, this is mainly what we are missing: consistency. Maybe it's because we have a new team with new players who have a different mentality and they are trying to adjust to the system. But I promise we are looking for ways to improve."