The ways in which Olympiacos head coach Panagiotis Giannakis has touched basketball supporters in his native Greece are numerous. He has played for or coached most of the top clubs in the country, and in both roles has also led the national team to its greatest moments. The Fan Mail questions that poured in for Giannakis shows that he's held in highest regard well beyond Greek soil, too. Facing the biggest challenge of his club coaching career, a do-or-die playoff Game 3 on Thursday against CSKA in Moscow for the right to play in the Final Four, Giannakis took time out to answer Fan Mail from as far away as Australia. What he transmitted in his answers was a belief in the ability of players to transform themselves and their teams just like he did for basketball in a whole country - not to mention for Olympiacos since taking over the bench just two months ago. "I always want to help the players do much better things than I used to do," Giannakis said. "And I always believe that a young man can do way better things than we did in my generation."
Hey, Coach Giannakis, I'm a big Olympiacos fan. What I want to ask you is how does it feel coaching one of the proudest basketball clubs in the world? Also, what are your feelings coming into the big game against CSKA Moscow to decide the Final Four qualifier? Thanks,
James Savoulidis - Canberra, Australia
"I feel proud, very proud for sure. We believe that we can show our best selves against CSKA and win the game."
Why does Arvydas Macijauskas come off the bench in recent games? Is he not fully recovered from injuries or does he not fit in you defensive focus to start the games?
Shilas - Lithuania
Generally, on my teams, I don't care who is starting the game or not. This not my priority. There are many things can be considered. and have to happen, in order for someone to start the game. As for Macijauskas, since I came here as coach, he has not practiced with us 100 percent. For the most part, he has been out of the practices because of his injuries."
Mr. Giannakis, What does it take for a boy to develop himself to become the best possible basketball player and coach, as you have in your career? Thank you,
Tanos - Greece
"I am one of these guys who always believes. I believe that every man has the ability and the chance to develop any given talent that they have. Basketball is a game in which you have to have athletic ability and at the same time the mindfulness needed in order to make, each time, the best possible move to achieve your goal. And also, the main thing is that you have to cooperate with others and to make them happy that they are teammates with you. These are things that for one man, for one child, can make them enjoy themselves even more. Basketball is a game that can be played by yourself or with friends. You don't need money to buy specific equipment or gear. You don't need big space to practice, either. You practice in your own room."
Hi Mr. Giannakis. As a coach, have you ever been close to telling your players: 'If you don’t do it right, I'll play instead of you!'? Cheers for everything,
Panagiotis - Greece
"No. I always want to help the players do much better things than I used to do. And I always believe that a young man can do way better things than we did in my generation."
Coach, when you took over Olympiacos, you decided to maintain the roster even if some of your players didn't seem to match your philosophy. After Marc Jackson's departure, do you regret the decision not to add a player when there was a chance to do it?
Marios - Greece
"When I joined Olympiacos, there was very little time until Euroleague signing deadline. But in any case, I always want to give the opportunity to the guys who started with the team, to see if they can, like professionals, work with a new system. And I believe that every man, if he wants to, can do so."
Mister Giannakis, many people in Greece - not only Olympiacos fans - would like to know about Sofoklis Schortsianitis. Is he getting better and does he have hopes of playing soon?
Dimitris - Greece
"He's getting better and he's trying hard, but we have to be patient with him because he needs time and we need him healthy, not only for one game but for many many years. I believe that he and also the fans should be patient, because it's worth the wait."
Hello, Coach Giannakis. How would you describe the difference about coaching the national team and the club?
Klemen Kodrca - Ljubljana, Slovenia
"On the national team, you have to choose among guys who have the technical skills and the ability to complement each other. Sometimes it is possible that they had cooperation with each other during the season that just finished. But with a national team, there's very little time to play effective basketball: you have to do it within a couple of months. On the other hand, the national team guys play for the love of basketball and the love of the national team. In your club, however, according to the money that you have to spend, you select the players that come to do what they are asked to do, and some of them you can change at some point, if they don't adjust. And of course every two or three days you have a different opponent. You have to improve your players' abilities and togetherness, learn about your opponents, design your conditioning level and your technical skills according to the schedule of the whole year. You must follow closely your opponents and the way they play. In general, they are two different jobs and it would take forever to explain, but for sure both give you real knowledge of basketball and of the players and of how to make teams play better."
Mr. Giannakis, please tell me what do you think about Milos Teodosic? I wish you the best of luck in Moscow and with Greece in the qualification tournament for the Olympics. Go Reds! Best regards,
Zeljko Vojinovic - Serbia
"He's a big talent. If he improves his athletic ability, and he is patient, he can help Serbian basketball a lot. And, of course, he can help us, too."
Hi, Coach. Are there adjustments with the team's inside game now that Marc Jackson is not part of the roster? Thank you for your time.
Alex - London, England
"We're trying to do some things in this regard in order to have quality at both ends of the floor. The things that Marc Jackson gave us on one end of the floor we want to have on both ends of the floors."