Oded Kattash won his share of big games with Panathinaikos OPAP Athens as a player. And on Thursday, he started what he and the Greens hope to be a new legacy by recording their first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague victory together with him as head coach as Panathinaikos eased past Khimki Moscow Region 94-78 at home.
It came after they lost on the road against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul last Friday, barely 48 hours after Kattash took over the bench, arriving from Hapoel Jerusalem to replace Georgios Vovoras.
"I feel great. Winning is always fun. But anything connected to Panathinaikos is special for me. Everybody knows that I have a special connection to Greece, to Athens, Panathinaikos," Kattash said after Thursday's win.
Indeed, Kattash and the Panathinaikos fans have a great common history as he was instrumental in helping the club win the 2000 EuroLeague title, defeating the team he grew up with, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in the final. However, that championship game, in which he tallied 17 points, would be Kattash's final EuroLeague contest as a player as he suffered a major knee injury weeks later in the Greek playoffs. Kattash, who was the leading scorer at the FIBA EuroBasket 1997, underwent numerous surgeries but his brilliant career was cut short at just 26 years of age.
Kattash remained in the game and moved to the sidelines as a coach and built up a name in his native Israel, winning the league crown in 2010 with Hapoel Gilboa Galil and twice taking the Israeli Cup with Hapoel Jerusalem in 2019 and 2020. He coached briefly in the EuroLeague with Maccabi in 2007-08, guiding the team to a 6-3 record.
Kattash has coached the Israeli youth and senior national teams but this is his first club coaching experience outside of his homeland. The 46-year-old knows Panathinaikos fans expect a lot of him, but he is calling on them to be patient.
"It's too early for me to promise anything. The only thing right now I can promise is that personally, I and my staff will do everything to make this team the best it can be," he said.
Kattash admitted that after a week on the job, he felt a lot more comfortable coaching against Khimki at OAKA than he had before the Fenerbahce game, when he had just met his players.
"It was really weird for me. I couldn't really help from the sidelines. It was a weird situation for me, but also for the players. But we've started building things up. Now I feel more connected to the players," he added.
Kattash is not just taking over the plans of the previous coaching staff, but rather installing a new offense and defense on the fly as Panathinaikos tries to fight for a spot in the playoffs.
"It's an important win for us. It was a good game for us to try the new things that Coach brought here. We just have to keep going," said Panathinaikos guard Nemanja Nedovic.
And while Kattash admitted his excitement about getting his first EuroLeague win as Panathinaikos coach, he also said, there is no time to harp on it.
"I'm very excited generally. But we have to put those things on the side. We have a job to do – a really hard job. And I am ready to put in a 100-percent effort," he said.
A 100-percent effort to build a new legacy at his old club.