George P. Filkinis is a FIBA certified Basketball Coach from Athens, Greece and well known as a master of the “Running Basketball” , as his teams are always distinguished particularly by the extreme speed of development and execution of their offense. His way of offensive basketball was influenced by the presence at Loyola Marymount University of his mentor coach Paul Westhead.
He is also considered as a defensive “genius” , as he eminently uses complex and pressing defenses with “traps”, multiple and consecutive rotations that confuse and overwhelm the opponent.
Besides , it is no coincidence the fact that his personal record in 686 official games , is 483 (70,4 %) wins and 203 (29,6%) defeats , while having conquered 11 (eleven) championships at all levels as a head coach and 6 (six) as assistant coach and defensive coordinator. With coach Filkinis we had a really interesting conversation for the friends of eurobasket.com.
I want first of all your opinion on the recent controversy between FIBA and Euroleague and the World Federation’s decision to punish the National Teams of the countries which will participate in competitions of the Euroleague.
Thanks a lot for the hospitality Miles and for the opportunity to contact with many friends and basketball fans both in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. In response to your question I think that it is legally unfounded the threat of FIBA against the federations of the countries whose teams chose to play in the Eurocup than in the Champions League. Teams should have the freedom to choose in which organization they will participate and I do not think that this kind of extortion eventually will benefit the sport. I believe that this rivalry comes from personal ambitions and will create bigger problems in European basketball, as well as degrading it rather than to enhance it. As a fan of the basketball initially and then as a professional I wish to prevail logic, to lower the controversies and to find a solution to ensure the sport’s progress and not its dwindling.
It is perfectly understandable your opinion coach and I believe that most people embrace it. Tell us about you now George and about your style of play. It’s known that you are an “up-tempo” coach but it’s useful our fans to know more details.
Gladly Miles. I decided to follow coach Westhead’s way of play first of all because he was my offensive teacher during the period I was in USA and secondly because I saw 18 years ago that the game of Basketball had to change to become faster and finally I was vindicated by the results that my teams achieved and by the fact that even late FIBA decided to establish the rule of 14 seconds. The basic thought that created the entire offensive philosophy of the “Running Basketball” is purely a matter of probabilities. The more efforts to make shots from your opponent the more chances you have to beat him if you are simply able to maintain a minimal acceptable accuracy. And when we are talking about shooting efforts obviously are needed more possessions of the ball than our opponents. As when we are talking about shots we mean open shots and from specific spots. So when 99% of the basketball coaches all over the world are teaching their players offensive systems and plays to face all the possible game situations , general and specific , depriving them the creation and the initiative we teach our team how to create possessions and open shots” in 3 seconds with the help of the basketball fundamentals and mathematics. This style of play has nothing to do with the common running game that some teams use at times and if you adopt it once you CAN NEVER COME BACK .
If you follow this first of all you will not be popular. This is a radical change and people don’t like radical changes. Your fellow coaches, administrators and fans will dislike you. Because it’s too hard for anyone to understand. For example why you are still running when you are up 15 and there are 4 minutes to go in the game and you don’t delay the game? They can’t understand that it’s impossible to stop your team. Even the officials will absolutely dislike you because you make them work too hard. So why we do this? Because it works , has great results , makes our team solid and almost unbeatable and personally I don’t give a damn if they like me or not , if they hate me or not , when my team runs and strangles the opponent. I don’t give a damn also, because my job is to find ways to make my team to win the games and this kind of basketball proven is the best I ever had. The philosophy of this Running Basketball is that we run on every situation. Turnovers, steals, defensive rebounds, made shots, missed shots, loose balls, up 20, down 20. Nonstop running. I’m a strong believer in what Sun Tzu writes in his book the Art of War. When you prepare everywhere you will be weak everywhere. So we don’t spend our time in practices to teach our team what to do against personal defenses or zone defenses. Our fast break is all that we do, we run it and that’s it. We have no zone offense as I said earlier, no press offense, no secondary offense and no delay offense. We do one thing and the players know we do one thing and they believe in what we do because they have no choice. They have no choice because there’s no alternative. We have a 7- second offense on missed shots. If we get the defensive rebound we like to shoot the ball within 7 seconds. On made shots we have a 3 – second offense. We will get the ball out of the net and shoot within 3 seconds. It takes us 7 seconds to get a shot if the opponents miss and 3 seconds if they make it. Our main goal is to get 100 shots a game when our team is ready. We are more interested for shots and points than in anything else and when we get a lot of points we usually win. We never but never use scouting. We don’t waste our time to analyze our opponents way of play. Our assistant coaches and all our staff works hard for our team. And in most games we don’t call time outs, we don’t need them as we haven’t anything to say and our players know very well what to do and they have to do only one thing. Deeper than that if a team is scoring on us the worst thing for us to do is to call a timeout because we need the clock running to do our game. Dead time hurts us to stop our pace and gives breaths to the opponents. This is just a part of my offensive philosophy that gave me untill now in 686 official games , 483 (70,4%) wins and 203 (29,6%) defeats and this is my one and only weapon.
Give us more details and if it’s possible a sample of your defensive philosophy and about your next plans.
Sometimes even though it seem a little selfish, I enjoy with some who claim, insist and flaunt that their teams are running. You’ve heard about early offense? Let me inform you that I have and I use a pre – early offense. Everything happens so quickly that sometimes even the guy who operates the game clock, the timekeeper gets confused. But the most important thing of this offense first of all, is that due of its quickness the opponent teams are constantly in a situation of transition defense and fail to apply against us their well training defenses and secondly that our players do whatever all the basketball players in every point of the planet like to do. That is to run and shoot the ball and no one will care or worry if they will make the basket or no. It’s normal to play special defenses that will allow us to steal balls, to push opponents to turnovers and to make easy baskets. Our players like to play aggressive on defense because they know that always a teammate is next to them for help. I always in our practices force the defense to play with a player less when other teams play 5 VS 5 and believe me that in two weeks with our right guidance and drills, the team is quite ready to play a whole game with four players. You asked me about my plans. Thank God I am independent both as a professional and as a person and so I’m not making compromises and concessions. I had proposals this season but were not tempting, not from the financial side but in terms of the quality, the work conditions and the goals. I’ll continue to choose the teams with which I want to cooperate with and I’ll continue to propose myself to groups with a low profile, but which stick at nothing like me to overthrow forecasts and projections and to succeed where others do not dare even to think. I will continue Miles to spread my love to Basketball and to face challenges and emotions that only this game can give as long as God gives me the power. My hard program and my results are my only credentials.
As usual coach the communication with you is extremely interesting and I would like to ask you at this point how feasible it is to put this game mode in any basketball team and how long it takes to consolidate your way?
I am delighted Miles with this question. When I’m going to a new team early in the season and before the start of it’s summer preparation , I always try to locate if a team has already 3 or 4 players, whom I’ll use as a main trunk who like to run , push and jump 120 minutes continuously , with only a 2 minute water break, because this will be the situation they will face in our practices the whole year If I’m lucky and find these players it’s easy around them to build my offense, otherwise I have to find them and to bring them to our team. The next step is to explain in great detail to each player individually what exactly is his role in our offense and what I’m asking from him. It’s vey important all the players know their job on the court and to work hard every day to improve themselves and team’s play. But all this is the easy job as the hardest part of our effort to make our offense to work is to change initially the mentality of our players and to make them forget the ways they played in the past and to accept and love the new way of play which is a radical change in everything they knew and did so far. They must consolidate that for us and for THEM offensively as our running game is all we have and our main goal is in every single way to make it faster and more effective. And believe me Miles that there is not in all the corners of the earth basketball players who doesn´t like to run and shoot the ball without agony if he will make it or not as nobody is going to blame him if he misses it. In two weeks they make certain in action the effectiveness of our game and they gradually begin to believe it and to enjoy it. Generally Miles it takes about ten to twelve weeks more or less for team’s preparation in our new way of play offensively and defensively and to be ready solid and competitive for the new championship against anyone …
Thank you George for this interview and for all the answers and the information you gave us.
I have to thank you Miles for this opportunity and I hope basketball
to come out stronger from the recent conflict.
🏀 coach George P. Filkinis
Basketball Coach Certified by FIBA
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