Paulo Prestes(FC Bayern Munich) Will Never Forget His First ACB Game Against Marc Gasol And Lists Andreas Wagner As His Mentor

Paulo Prestes (211-C-1988) is a former player from Brazil that currently is head coach of FC Bayern Munich’s NBBL (U-19 team). He was drafted in 2010 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but played most of his career in his homeland mainly because he suffered so many injuries in his career. But he also found experience playing in Lithuania and parts of 5 seasons in Spain with Malaga, Murcia, Granada and Gran Canaria. He moved to Germany and began with Ibam and now is in his third season with FC Bayern Munich. He spoke to before the 2023 NBBL top 4 tournament in Frankfurt, Germany.

Thanks Paulo for talking to You had a long professional career playing mostly in Brazil and in Spain and briefly in Lithuania. Why didn’t you have a longer career in Europe? Did you miss your home country Brazil?

I had so many injuries in my career. I had 5 knee surgeries. It affected how I walked. I decided to step down to a lower level and play in Brazil. In Brazil I only played 3 more seasons after my last in Spain. My doctor then said I could never play again and then I retired.

You played for some teams in Spain. How do you remember the ACB 15 years ago? You then played against so many legends. What memories do you have of those days?

My first game was against Marc Gasol. That was an amazing experience. The game has changed so much in the last 15 years. The bigs now are so athletic and fast. If you look at Euroleague rosters, only a few have a true big man. A guy like Donatas Motiejunas is a center but plays the 4 for Monaco. I thought I adapted well in the ACB. The practices were tough. I profited a lot playing against Boniface Ndong and Daniel Santiago in practice each day. They helped me a lot. I began to be able to score the ball.

You were teammates with ex North Carolina Tar Heel Shammond Williamas. What memories do you have of him?

It was great having a legend like Shammond as a teammate. He had so much experience. We had a great relationship. He helped me so much that year understanding how the bigs and guard play together. He is coaching high school basketball nowadays.

You were drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010. You also played NBA Summer League in 2012. Did injuries cost you an NBA career?

I would say so. I was happy I was drafted despite being injured. But at the same time also a little surprised. But I knew I would never have an NBA career at my last Summer League game because my knees were in such bad shape.

You have become a coach and since some years have been in the FC Bayern Munich organization? How did this working cooperation come about?

When I retired, I moved to Munich. My wife had had family in Munich for 20 years. When I was there I also saw a doctor about my knees. I never had had an intention to become a coach when I moved to Munich. The first person I met in Munich that had basketball ties was the coach of IBAM Robie Scheinberg. I began working at IBAM for 1,5 as a player development coach. I worked with guys like Joshua Obiesie and Tristan Da Silva. While at IBAM I got the feeling that I wanted to be a coach for a living. Then came the opportunity with FC Bayern Munich. I felt that I had to give something back to the game. I was so blessed to have Andreas Wagner as coach there. He helped me so much at the beginning. I helped out working with the Bigs of the BBL team and then was an assistant with the Pro B team. I can say that Andreas Wagner was my mentor. Coming to FC Bayern Munich was the right decision.

FC Bayern Munich is like FC Barcelona of Spain and a real basketball brand. What have you enjoyed most about being able to work for them?

What I really like is that 80% of the players with FC Bayern Munich are from Munich. They opened the door for me and have given me freedom. I also think very highly about the communication between the pro and youth sector. I also like the trust that they have given me.

This season your coaching the NBBL team. What do you enjoy most about working with young men?

The biggest thing that I get out of coaching young me is seeing them develop after a long time. But it isn’t only how they develop as players, but also as young men. I have enjoyed seeing how Licina and Dolic have developed. I have helped them control their emotions.

What do you feel are your biggest attributes as a head coach that you can give your players back? You don’t necessarily have the big men where you can give back your center qualities.

I feel one of the biggest attributes is the experience I have gained as a player. Just being teammates with guys like Shammond Williams and Marcus Haislip was important. I think having been teammates with legends like that and having great coaches helped me and the knowledge I gained from them, I want to give further to the kids. I think what also is important is that I didn’t retire so long ago. I still have the player feelings. I understand the players side and am trying to understand the coaching side better. I want to combine both and give clear and clean communication with the players.

This seasons top 4 is an interesting field with FC Bayern Munich, Urspring, Alba Berlin and the Young Rasta Dragons. Is it fair to say that FC Bayern Munich isn’t the top favorite?

We are definitely not the favorite. Alba Berlin is the favorite. We went through a lot with injuries. We never had a full roster for a game this season. My main goal is for my guys to compete against anyone. I feel they can compete with anyone.

The Munich NBBL team has a solid scoring attack averaging 80 points per game but the biggest strength is the defense allowing 62 points per game. How much of a challenge is it in general to have young players play defense?

Training defense takes a lot of energy. 80% of practice focuses on defense. I have to keep the quality of our defense high. Obviously at this age, defense isn’t sexy for them, but I have to make them understand that defense can impact the game. Of course offense will help you win some games, but defense makes you win titles. As a coach it is important to give a little of freedom. I don’t want robots. They can make mistakes. That helps their development.

When I look at the bigs of Alba Berlin and the Young Rasta Dragons, one can get scared. FC Bayern Munich don’t have classic big men? How do you see to compensate that when playing teams like that?

I think we will compensate that with our intensity. Guys like Alec Anigbata and Desmond Yiamu are super athletic and have huge wing spans. I think what will help us a lot is their experience having played Pro B this season. They faced centers every night and that will help against bigger teams like Alba and Vechta. The best big is Johan Gruenloh. I really like him. We need to apply a lot of pressure on him and make him dribble. We will be ready. My guys will fight against anyone.

What has it been like working with Christian Skladanowski? How have you seen his development?

This hasn’t been an easy season for him. He had problems with COVID and missed 5 months. Even when he came back, he had some health issue and there was little continuation. But when he got healthy again, you could see his development. I told him that he is so much more than a role player. I told him to take more responsibility and he accepted the challenge.

I love to watch Ivan Khartchenkov. He was injured for many months. What kind of a player is he now after the long break?

Ivan already has a pro mentality. When practice starts he is 100% focused. He just loves to compete. He was out 4 months, but made a huge recovery. He was in shape when he came back and practiced with the BBL team as well. Nothing changed during his injury. He was the same player when he came back. You need to kick him out of the gym at night, because he has to go to school. If I didn’t he would shoot 2-3 more hours. You need to turn off the lights on him.

How key will be the guard play of Luis Wulf and Amar Licina? Their energy and experience could be the difference between a title and not?

I will say yes. Wulf didn’t play much NBBL this season. When they play together they give so much energy and press very well. They can be the game changers and are our leaders. They deliver and team follows.

Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in your career on the court that made the NBA?

Marc Gasol. I only played 1 game against him. It was his last season before he went to the NBA. He was MVP of the league that season. Ndong and Santiago were injured so I aha to jump in. I had a similar body to him then. It was fun to battle against him.

Thanks Paulo for the chat.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s