Sakota reflects on AEK success as Mitrovic laments missed opportunity
AEK’s Dragan Sakota praised his players after AEK’s win while AS Monaco’s Zvezdan Mitrovic described his disappointment in post-match press conferences at the OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall…
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In post-match press conferences following AEK’s 100-94 defeat of Monaco in the FIBA Basketball Champions League, both coaches reflected on what happened in a thrilling final at the OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall.
Dragan Sakota, the mastermind behind AEK’s incredible run to the club’s first Final Four and first-ever triumph in the FIBA Champions League, explained how his side deserved the crown.
“We deserved the win. Congratulations to everyone. It was a fantastic atmosphere. All together we accomplished something special,” explained a proud Sakota.
After replacing Sotiris Manolopoulos on the AEK sidelines at the start of December, Sakota helped steer AEK to what seemed an impossible feat as even the knockout rounds seemed a longshot for the club.
“It was a long and difficult way. No one believed in us, in the end in the final four it’s the toughest moment. We played great basketball in the final,” Sakota continued.
AEK’s win over Monaco was just the third defeat for the French side in the competition; something that didn’t go unnoticed by Sakota.
“We beat probably the best team in the competition; they had lost just two games the whole season.”
Sakota also looked back on the process of building the team AEK has become not just in the FIBA Champions League but also in domestic competition.
“Everyone is working for trophies. No one respects when you build a team, watching players improve. We have a lot of goals, it’s not only the trophies. It is difficult for us to repeat something. What we are supposed to do is to build the team and make the next step forward,” Sakota said, possibly referring to the club’s upcoming playoff run in the Greek Basket League.
Meanwhile, Monaco’s bench-boss, Zvezdan Mitrovic, congratulated AEK for their triumph but lamented on his side’s inability to get the job done in the principality club’s biggest game of the season.
“Congratulations to AEK for having a great organization and hosting a spectacular three days in Athens. It’s been a great season, but we are disappointed in ourselves,” said a dejected Mitrovic.
For a side that was dominant in the competition right from the first round of action in the group stage, Mitrovic chalked up the loss to an inability to play effective defense.
“It was not the Monaco defense we needed to have. We shot some crazy three-point shots and allowed 100 points. Especially in the final game, this is not acceptable.”
Despite the loss, Mitrovic still voiced his pride in his squad: “Maybe we are a better team, but tonight we did not show it. AEK did everything in this Final Four. They are not better individually than we are. My players are the best; I am here to do my job.”