By Antigoni Zachari / firstname.lastname@example.org
Eurohoops caught up with Panathinaikos newcomer Ben Bentil at the EuroLeague media day held by the team this past Thursday. The newly acquired big man was the odd man out of the Greek League roster, due to the limit of non-local players. However, his presence will be more than important for the Greens, who are still searching for the center who can make a difference.
The 24-year-old Ghanaian EuroLeague rookie this spoke about the first weeks with the team, his objectives for the season and the relationship between him and Argyris Pedoulakis among other things.
Eurohoops: How are the first few weeks with Panathinaikos rolling?
Ben Bentil: I feel awesome. Being around with the guys in Panathinaikos, it’s wonderful. Just ready to get this season started.
EH: As a EuroLeague newcomer, which are your objectives, both on a personal and a team level?
BB: I want to learn different things on the game, be more focused, more detailed about scouting, tactics in the game. In general to learn how to play better and build a good relationship with my teammates and my coaches.
EH: On that matter, how is it like working with Argyris Pedoulakis again after your time in Peristeri?
BB: I think that’s a good advantage, simply knowing what it takes to play for him and play under him and his philosophy. I think that’s a great thing but at the same time too it’s a whole different team, whole different players. It’s basically about coming out and earning his trust again. I know it’s a blessing to be coached by him again and he will help me develop a lot.
EH: We know it’s a bit early on, but could you make an educated guess on the teams that will make it in the EuroLeague quarter-finals this season?
BB: I wouldn’t know for any team. I hope we’re going to make it to the playoffs. I’m only worried about my team and what we have to do to get in the playoffs.
EH: Since it’s your first EuroLeague season, who are you the most excited to play against?
BB: Everybody (laughs). I’m excited to just be on the court with the best of the best and just compete at the highest level possible. You don’t look down on anybody, you don’t look up to anybody. As long as they are in the EuroLeague you got to respect everybody and take it one game at a time and try to win it.
BB: We already know the history between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. Last year I was able to witness a little bit of it, so this year it should be more fun than it should be harder. But at the same time, it will be just us, competing, trying to win.
EH: You’ve nearly all over the world, from Xinjiang Flying Tigers in China and Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, to Chalons-Reims and Bilbao Basket prior to coming to Greece, at still a very young age. So when it comes to giving advice to players who are just starting their pro career, what would you say?
BB: Work hard and stick with it. The journey is not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard to get through it. Just listen to the people you trust. They know the game more, coaches, trainers, family. And just stay focused on the game and try to perfect what you do best. Don’t try to do anything else.
EH: Is there any former teammate(s) that you miss the most from all of your past teams?
BB: As far as college, my best friend, Khris Dunn. We played in Providence together. I miss this group of guys the most. Being a pro, of course, Dirk Nowitzki, the guys in Dallas. I also miss [playing against] Isaiah Tomas.