Ergin Ataman shies away from mentioning the name of Fenerbahçe Beko, but the head coach of Basketball Süper Lig champion Anadolu Efes complains that he was the victim of "some sort of mobbing" during an eventful final series between the two bitter rivals. Speaking to reporters Friday, the veteran coach said he was subject to "mental pressure that no coach has been exposed to in Turkey or the world" for the six games in the final series between Fenerbahçe and Anadolu Efes.
Ataman guided Anadolu Efes to the top local title and took them to the EuroLeague Final Four for the first time. The Istanbul-based team won its 14th Basketball Süper Lig title, but it was a difficult task for Ataman, who faced Fenerbahçe chants that amounted to insults for seven consecutive games in the playoff finals. Fenerbahçe, in turn, had openly accused Ataman of "intimidating" the fans with his firebrand rhetoric against the team.
As the nail-biting series ended with an 89-74 win in Game 7 on June 21, Ataman, who was almost nailed in his seat throughout the game, calmly stood up and walked to the locker room, without cheering. "I was simply reacting to the system," he explains. "I was almost subject to some kind of mobbing. People hurled insults at me, swear words, in front of everyone, from the federation chairman to top basketball executives," he recounted.
The coach was also critical of the lifting of a ban to play without fans for Fenerbahçe Beko upon the constant barrage of demeaning chants. "I was just relaxed that crowd hurling insults left and right at me would not be there, but the federation changed its mind one day before the match," he complained. He said his silence in the final game was a reaction to that decision. Aside from this complaint, Ataman is happy with how Anadolu Efes fared. "This was a team that finished the THY EuroLeague last, a team eliminated in the Süper Lig semifinals, just one season ago," he said.