George Filkinis (A Greek Perspective On German Basketball)

George Filkinis is a Greek basketball coach with over 30 years of experience. He has won 11 titles as a head coach and 6 as an assistant coach. He has coached teams like Marousi, Asteras BC, AO Arion,  Irakleion, AO Sporting, Achilles  Cyprus, Panathinaikos Cyprus, and AO Lamias.  He has coached 680 official games is  and his record is 477 ( 70,15%) wins and 203 (20,85%). He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

Thank you coach Filkinis for talking to the German Hoops. You have been a basketball coach as is known, for more than 30 years with great experience and watching closely the most European championships and especially the German. What is your opinion about the German basketball?

 The few friends of mine dear Miles know very well that I always say the things with their name and I will continue to do it even though this costs for me and remains costing on my personal and professional life. I watch indeed closely the German championships of BBL, Pro A and Pro B , in the last 10 years and I have found that despite the huge sums of money that teams have spent each year and despite the best efforts of some romantics unfortunately the level of National basketball, if you compare it with other European countries, remains stagnated or to be more realist goes for the worse.

Would you like to be more specific coach?

The image of the National basketball team in combination with its results in the last international events, justify me absolutely. The level and the quality of basketball in a country expressed primarily by the capacity and the achievements of it’s National team. After 2005, where they lost the final against Greece and won the second place shows of the German National Basketball Team was moderate to disappointing. So at 2007 won the 5th place , at 2009 the 11th, 2011 the 9th while at 2013 ranked 17th where defeated even by Belgium without wishing and for any reason to belittle the efforts and the well deserved victory of Belgium.

In your opinion where owed the moderate instances of the national team in international competitions?

One of the largest Greek coaches and one of the leaders in Europe over time the dear departed and my teacher Pfaedon Mattheou was ever saying that team is  the cell of the basketball, And it’s the absolute truth. The level of a country’s basketball depends mostly on how competitive it’s league is and what kind” of basketball work is done in the teams. And to make myself clearer I think that if today the image of the National basketball is not satisfying at all the solely responsible are the teams mainly with their choices, their diffidence and the way they work and secondarily the federation of basketball for the organization, planning and regulations of the professional championships which have ultimately repercussions regarding the National Team.

Can you add more details on this placing coach.

First of all I think that a sizable proportion of the coaches who currently coaching  in most European and German leagues are products and creations of really great, excellent advertisings  and public relations. They don’t offer something important to their teams they don’t produce deed” nor assist in the progress of the game. Most of them just MAINTAIN and perpetuate the situation hiding behind the safety of their contracts. And anyone who knows me personally knows very well that this attitude of mine doesn’t express PERSONAL commitment or envy on my part as many times I rejected proposals because they didn’t cover my ambitions. A coach is successful for me when gives specific directions and roles to his players creates and provides, thinks hard, experiments, gets risks and puts finally his stamp and philosophy on his team whenever he finally leaves. Few coaches leave behind them something creative something that will characterizes them. I just consider that the most coaches are responsible for the stagnation of the game as they just handle their players with the tolerance due to ignorance of the groups managements. Undoubtedly there are team managers who knows the Game and if necessary get lightning fast decisions. Instead we see teams that trust coaches supernumeraries and to continue support them even their teams that are going from the bad to the worse. But beware please, because I want to be clear. I don’t mean that in Germany work bad coaches. There are no bad coaches. All coaches are excellent have knowledge and a high level. The main difference I have with some of them probably the most is that they simply are interested for the direct result and don’t give the same importance for the game of basketball itself and as it happens more often the game itself punishes them.
Part of my philosophy is that when I play a game I never play against a specific opponent. I always play against the game of Basketball.
Of course some will find it difficult to understand exactly what I mean. I invite them so to attend my workouts or to contact with me to explain.
I’ll do it with great pleasure. Another big problem that I discern is the  Americanization of the German championships with the responsibility of the Basketball Federation. Take a look at the roster of a team of BBL. you will find there 5, 6, 7 and even 8 American players which is Unbelievable ! 
Where to play basketball the German players if even in Pro B you will find Americans. And if the German player finally is playing in a group , how long he has participation in the games? Besides, it is known that the player doesn’t improves himself only via training but via his participation in official games also. Here lies is the great responsibility of the basketball federation.

Does this affect the national basketball team?

The coach of the German National team has to select the players who will join the team , among players who are the most in their teams are typically substitutes of the Americans and have fewer game experiences. So under such conditions and circumstances the failure of the team is expected.
At this point I want to emphasize that I am not against American players I am against the binge invading of Americans and foreigners players generally against the  indigenous. But it is obvious that some people are more interested for the temporary successes and ignore the product itself the game basketball. And unfortunately such planning and actions has resulted in the deterioration of the National Basketball Team.

You talked previously coach about what “kind” of basketball “work” is done in the teams. What do you exactly mean?

Yes, but because this is a piece of my coaching program which I processes steadily during the last 15 years, I think that you realize that I can’t give specific informations and details. But I can point out that the game itself is constantly evolving because there are still people of the basketball who create and puzzled, people who are dealing with the details and quality, regardless if the most interested for temporary effects . Phrases that I often use like, the goal is to play the game well and almost right is wrong, reflect the perfection I am seeking in the practices.In each game, easily someone will notice that it is extremely difficult for a significant number of players to create situations for their teammates or to cooperate perfectly with them to complete an offense. Especially in teams that strictly follow specific plays the phenomenon of players that ignore what to do when the defense has good reaction, it is very common. Even many times we see poor defense cooperations in simple and basic offensive movements. You see basketball is a game of habits and most of the moves actions and reactions of a player should be repeated thousands of times to run them in a game automatically and effectively.Therefore the type and the content of the work that is done in a group in conjunction with the options of persons who compose it, are the main factors that will determine if the group will have good or bad results. So the basic answer to your question is that the basketball punishes all those who hunt exclusively the result and ignore the actual game itself.

Summarizing coach you believe that the German basketball should reduce the large and uncontrolled influx of foreign players , to work more serious in the groups and to provide opportunities for German players?

Not only “opportunities ” but much playing time and trust! Hard and quality workouts first, trust second and much playing time third are the keys.According to my opinion and philosophy the basic structure of a group should be composed of local players. And the choice of foreign players must cover specific gaps and weaknesses. The issue of selection of foreign players is very serious and should be done with great care and aims to cover exclusively the needs of the group. Perhaps some will reasonably wonder and believe that since they have the ability to “fill up” their roster with good foreign players, they will enhance the capacity of their team also. But this is a big mistake. Many good players in a group more often create more problems just with their presence as they are called to do useful but “dirty things in a team’s play which they never did in their career. And these particular useful roles is possible to play the most local players who may lack in talent than some foreign players. So I think that the team that has a trunk of well controlled local players and enhanced by good quality and cooperative foreign players can achieve the overstepping.

What else do you think coach that will help the development of the German basketball?

The German basketball has to acquire its own identity. The steps are simple and the result will be positive if the people of the federation decide what kind of basketball they want to create, to find the right persons and to build slowly but steadily their own school and their own style.
To force the teams to engage seriously with the academies of the young players, to try and push to enter the basketball in schools and to organize such tournaments. To compel yet the professional groups to have in their composition and in every game at least five local players.To identify also specific times at which professional teams can acquire players. The ability of the groups to make new contracts with players uncontrollably in the middle of the season, I don’t think that is honest because it alters the character and the evolution of professional championships! Should all the teams start their championships and to play under the same terms and the coaches to work properly with the players and not to replace some when they aren’t satisfied with them, especially if these replaceable players are their options.

Can you give us some information about your basketball philosophy and the way you work in your teams?

I was never the type of coach who is preparing to fail by falling to prepare. The secret is to organize your team to be ready to face ALL predictable circumstances, which may take place in a game, applying my really hard program product of 32 years experience in coaching. For me a basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. All fingers make specific works. If a finger doesn’t makes its own work, your hand has bad functionality and effectiveness. But if you can get all fingers work together, you have a fist. And the fist is stronger than the fingers singularly. That’s how I want my teams to play and I give from the beginning specific roles to my players depending on their skills and qualifications.I am a lover of totalitarian basketball, offensively and defensively and maybe the rhythms that my groups must follow are devastating for us in the beginning, but later become a nightmare for our opponents.

Thank you coach Filkinis for this interview and your take on German basketball

I have to thank you a lot for this opportunity and I hope that the new year will be creative for the teams to offer nice spectacle to the fans of the basketball and the German basketball to rapidly identity and get back to leading positions in Europe!

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