Zan Tabak, what about the feeling of the first season as head coach?
“Talking off the court, for what concerns aspects out of sports, it was a very difficult season because of financial issues: for the most of the season we didn’t receive the salary, but we continued to go on. Then, in the last period two players left, and one of the most important ones got injury and was out for the season. The organization became really difficult, but we finished our job anyway. Talking on court, for what concerns strictly sports aspects, it was a good season: it was my first year as head coach, but I can say that basically I got much more experience than usual, it was my first step in a new world, my third career as head coach”.
After five years as assistant coach, how different was the job?
“There are big differences between the two roles. As assistant coach, everything depends by how much the head coach make his assistant coaches participate. And I can say I was very lucky to be assistant coach for five years for coach Joan Plaza, who made me participate in everything and prepared me a lot, that’s why I started my new job feeling fully ready. Definitely, one of biggest challenges of my first season as head coach was to adjust to a completely different league, and I took a couple of months to make all work. When things started to work in the best way, we moved around the playoffs area for long time, reaching also the 7th place of the ranking. Then the financial troubles compromised our season”.
“You must consider that we started the season as the team with the lowest budget of all league, but anyway we wanted to build a new project step by step, working for the future. The delay in salary payment started early in the season, but at the beginning we thought that it was only a matter of time. But nothing changed for long time, and that situation definitely influenced the organization. We lost one of our players, Fernandez, who got injured for the season. And finally our two foreigner players left, and we practically finished the season with only six players”.
You kept the team together also in tough moments and achieved your goal, anyway.
“I want to say that I was very proud of my players and of the great work made together. I am sure that without the financial troubles we would have reached the Playoffs, and in that case we would have been ready to be a surprise in LEB Oro, because all along the season we showed to be a team capable to compete and win against everyone”.
The 20 year experienced Darryl Middleton said that he learnt a lot having you as head coach…
“When someone like Darryl gives that kind of accomplishment about you, is really something nice. And I really appreciate his words, in the same way I appreciated the great work he did both on the court and in the locker-room, using all his experience to be a leader for the team. I was also very happy to see Nacho Ordin play in ACB in the last part of the season, it meant that the work done together during the season was very good. Once more, I really want to thank my players, in particular the most experienced ones, because without them it would not be possible to keep the team together in a so difficult situation and achieve our goal, as we finally did”.
You had a fantastic experience as a player all along twenty years: how has it been useful to your new job of head coach?
“First of all, I think that when you decide to move from the role of player to the role of head coach, you immediately have to forget everything you reached along your career. Because being a head coach is something completely different and you are supposed to be perfectly prepared to do it. For sure you always keep something with your from your previous experience, and in my case it could be useful knowing how to act both courtside in the game and in the locker-room and how to talk to players. But technically, you have to learn everything from the first page, and that was what I did tried to do during my five years as assistant coach”.
Now, it’s just time to go forward and look to the future…
“I feel like a young head coach after his rookie season. And this is my point to restart, because I strongly believe that a coach should never stop learning. Every new season you have to make one more step and build new experience, from the rookie ones to the greatest coaches. Looking at my future right now, for sure I want to focus on the situation of Girona, hoping that the club will find a solution to go on and to be competitive in LEB Oro, and in that case my desire and my responsibility will keep me there, even if unfortunately in this moment the situation appears still very difficult”.
You always made your choices together with your family…
“During all my career, both as player or coach, my family always came with me, from former Yugoslavia to Italy , USA, Turkey and Spain. Gorana is my wife since 20 years, and if you consider that our older daughter Ella, 17 years old, was born in Houston, our middle son Luka, 13, was born in Istanbul and our younger daughter Mar, 5, was born in Madrid, this tells you everything. For sure we always consider what is best also for them and for their education, as well as to build my career as basketball coach I consider to make always one more step and take new challenge to grow up”.
At the end of the Eighties, you played with Zoran Savic in Jugoplastika Split… And last year you joined him back in INVICTUS Sports Group. What about your relationship?
“The relationship between me and Zoran is much more than two former teammates. And is much more than a coach and his agent. We always kept a strong friendship all along those years, and in truth I was happy with the agent I had before, but when last year he became an agent, I sooner joined him. To explain how deep the relationship between his family and mine, I just can say that his wife, Anita, is the godmother of our little daughter Mar. Simply, they are part of our family”.